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Integrated approach to radiation therapy provides quality care for cancer patients

Results from a University of Pittsburgh study demonstrate that intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) can be uniformly delivered in a large health care system of academic and community cancer centers through a centralized planning and treatment process. The findings, presented today at the 48th Annual Meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO) in Philadelphia, demonstrate that patients can receive consistent quality of care despite geographic distances.

"Our study demonstrates that it is feasible for patients to receive IMRT in their own communities without sacrificing high-quality care," said Ajay Bhatnagar, M.D., principal investigator of the study and chief resident, department of radiation oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. "This is possible through an integrated network in which treatment is standardized across all cancer centers."

According to study results, there were no significant differences in toxicity profiles and recommended radiation dose prescriptions in 758 prostate cancer patients treated with IMRT at 12 separate community cancer centers and one academic flagship facility. All 13 centers, connected through a telemedicine network, followed the same clinical pathway guidelines for the radiotherapy management of prostate cancer, which included specific details on volumes for radiation treatment planning and recommended doses of IMRT.

"By standardizing planning and treatment for IMRT, patients who live in remote locations can benefit from the same quality of care available at a large academic medical center," said Dwight E. Heron, M.D., study co-author and associate professor of radiation oncology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and director of radiation oncology, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). "Bringing advanced radiation therapy to community locations can have a very positive effect on a patient's quality of life by relieving the anxiety and stress of traveling for treatment."

IMRT treatment planning for the centers was performed at one central location, D3 Radiation Planning, located in Pittsburgh, Pa. Through telemedicine capabilities, medical physicists based at D3 collaborated with radiation oncologists at community locations to develop individualized treatment plans for the patients.

"D3 has worked closely with UPMC physicians in developing standardized approaches for IMRT treatment planning for prostate cancer," said Robin Green, CEO of D3. "Centralizing the treatment planning and delivery process can provide an effective and efficient way to consistently provide high-quality treatment."

Clare Collins | EurekAlert!
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