Acta oncologica (Stockholm, Sweden)
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BACKGROUND: Radiotherapy technology continues to advance and the expectation of improved outcomes requires greater accuracy in various radiotherapy steps. Different factors affect the overall accuracy of dose delivery. Institutional comprehensive quality assurance (QA) programs should ensure that uncertainties are maintained at acceptable levels. The International Atomic Energy Agency has recently developed a report summarizing the accuracy achievable and the suggested action levels, for each step in the radiotherapy process. Overview of the report: The report seeks to promote awareness and encourage quantification of uncertainties in order to promote safer and more effective patient treatments. The radiotherapy process and the radiobiological and clinical frameworks that define the need for accuracy are depicted. Factors that influence uncertainty are described for a range of techniques, technologies and systems. Methodologies for determining and combining uncertainties are presented, and strategies for reducing uncertainties through QA programs are suggested. The role of quality audits in providing international benchmarking of achievable accuracy and realistic action levels is also discussed.
RECOMMENDATIONS: The report concludes with nine general recommendations: (1) Radiotherapy should be applied as accurately as reasonably achievable, technical and biological factors being taken into account. (2) For consistency in prescribing, reporting and recording, recommendations of the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements should be implemented. (3) Each institution should determine uncertainties for their treatment procedures. Sample data are tabulated for typical clinical scenarios with estimates of the levels of accuracy that are practically achievable and suggested action levels. (4) Independent dosimetry audits should be performed regularly. (5) Comprehensive quality assurance programs should be in place. (6) Professional staff should be appropriately educated and adequate staffing levels should be maintained. (7) For reporting purposes, uncertainties should be presented. (8) Manufacturers should provide training on all equipment. (9) Research should aid in improving the accuracy of radiotherapy. Some example research projects are suggested.