Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Machine learning could speed up radiation therapy for cancer patients

09.02.2007
A new computer-based technique could eliminate hours of manual adjustment associated with a popular cancer treatment.

In a paper published in the Feb. 7 issue of Physics in Medicine and Biology, researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute describe an approach that has the potential to automatically determine acceptable radiation plans in a matter of minutes, without compromising the quality of treatment.

"Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) has exploded in popularity, but the technique can require hours of manual tuning to determine an effective radiation treatment for a given patient," said Richard Radke, assistant professor of electrical, computer, and systems engineering at Rensselaer. Radke is leading a team of engineers and medical physicists to develop a "machine learning" algorithm that could cut hours from the process.

A subfield of artificial intelligence, machine learning is based on the development of algorithms that allow computers to learn relationships in large datasets from examples. Radke and his coworkers have tested their algorithm on 10 prostate cancer patients. They found that for 70 percent of the cases, the algorithm automatically determined an appropriate radiation therapy plan in about 10 minutes.

"The main goal of radiation therapy is to irradiate a tumor with a very high dose, while avoiding all of the healthy organs," Radke said. He described early versions of radiation therapy as a "fire hose" approach, applying a uniform stream of particles to overwhelm cancer cells with radiation.

IMRT adds nuance and flexibility to radiation therapy, increasing the likelihood of treating a tumor without endangering surrounding healthy tissue. Each IMRT beam is composed of thousands of tiny "beamlets" that can be individually modulated to deliver the right level of radiation precisely where it is needed.

But the semi-automatic process of developing a treatment plan can be extremely time-consuming - up to about four hours for prostate cancer and up to an entire day for more complicated cancers in the head and neck, according to Radke.

A radiation planner must perform a CT scan, analyze the image to determine the exact locations of the tumor and healthy tissues, and define the radiation levels that each area should receive. Then the planner must give weight to various constraints set by a doctor, such as allowing no more than a certain level of radiation to hit a nearby organ, while assuring that the tumor receives enough to kill the cancerous cells.

This is currently achieved by manually determining the settings of up to 20 different parameters, or "knobs," deriving the corresponding radiation plan, and then repeating the process if the plan does not meet the clinical constraints. "Our goal is to automate this knob-turning process, saving the planner's time by removing decisions that don't require their expert intuition," said Radke.

The researchers first performed a sensitivity analysis, which showed that many of the parameters could be eliminated completely because they had little effect on the outcome of the treatment. They then showed that an automatic search over the smaller set of sensitive parameters could theoretically lead to clinically acceptable plans.

The procedure was put to the test by developing radiation plans for 10 patients with prostate cancer. In all 10 cases the process took between five and 10 minutes, Radke said. Four cases would have been immediately acceptable in the clinic; three needed only minor "tweaking" by an expert to achieve an acceptable radiation plan; and three would have demanded more attention from a radiation planner.

Radke and his coworkers plan to develop a more robust prototype that can be installed on hospital computers and evaluated in a clinical setting. He hopes to see a clinical prototype in the next few years. The researchers also plan to test the approach on tumors that are more difficult to treat with radiation therapy, such as head and neck cancers.

In a related project, Radke is collaborating with colleagues at Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital to create computer vision algorithms that offer accurate estimates of the locations of tumors. This automatic modeling and segmentation process could help radiation planning at an earlier stage by automatically outlining organs of interest in each image of a CT scan, which is another time-consuming manual step. Learn more about this project here: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=134.

Jason Gorss | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=134

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms
25.04.2017 | NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

nachricht DGIST develops 20 times faster biosensor
24.04.2017 | DGIST (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology)

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA's Fermi catches gamma-ray flashes from tropical storms

25.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Researchers invent process to make sustainable rubber, plastics

25.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Transfecting cells gently – the LZH presents a GNOME prototype at the Labvolution 2017

25.04.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>