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Radiother Oncol. 2005 Dec;77(3):241-6. Epub 2005 Nov 17.

The impact of introducing intensity modulated radiotherapy into routine clinical practice.

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  • 1Radiotherapy Department, Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust, London and Sutton, UK.



Intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) at the Royal Marsden Hospital London was introduced in July 2001. Treatment delivery was dynamic using a single-phase technique. Concerns were raised regarding increased clinical workload due to introduction of new technology. The potential increased use of resources was assessed.


IMRT patient selection was within guidelines of clinical trials and included patients undergoing prostate plus pelvic lymph node (PPN) irradiation and head and neck cancer (HNC) treatment. Patient planning, quality assurance and treatment times were collected for an initial IMRT patient group. A comparative group of patients with advanced HNC undergoing two- or three-phase conventional radiotherapy, requiring matched photon and electron fields, were also timed.


The median overall total planning time for IMRT was greater for HNC patients compared to the PPN cohort. For HNC the overall IMRT planning time was significantly longer than for conventional. The median treatment time for conventional two- or three-phase HNC treatments, encompassing similar volumes to those treated with IMRT, was greater than that for the IMRT HNC patient cohort. A reduction in radiographer man hours per patient of 4.8h was recorded whereas physics time was increased by 4.9h per patient.


IMRT currently increases overall planning time. Additional clinician input is required for target volume localisation. Physics time is increased, a significant component of this being patient specific QA. Radiographer time is decreased. For HNC a single phase IMRT treatment has proven to be more efficient than a multiple phase conventional treatment. IMRT has been integrated smoothly and efficiently into the existing treatment working day. This preliminary study suggests that IMRT could be a routine treatment with efficient use of current radiotherapy resources.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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