The better radiation therapy can be targeted, the less of it patients will need -- making real-time adjustment of a radiation beam during treatment a potentially significant improvement. Photo by Alexander Tihonov/Shutterstock
SYDNEY, Austria, March 23 (UPI) -- Researchers in Australia will test new technology to improve accuracy of radiation therapy for prostate cancer, potentially cutting the number of treatments a patient needs from 40 to five.
The TROG 15.01 SPARK trial will test kilovoltage intrafraction monitoring, or KIM, which images tumors while delivering treatment, allowing doctors to keep radiation beams on the tumor while also intensifying the treatment -- slashing the number of treatments needed.
The researchers are focusing on prostate cancer patients being treated with stereotactic prostate adaptive radiotherapy, but said if the trial is successful the technique could be applicable to treating other types of cancer as well.
"The KIM technology will enable safer radiation dose intensification, and therefore the SPARK
trial cancer patients will be treated in five treatment sessions over two weeks," Paul Keall, a professor at the University of Sydney, said in a press release. "Potential patients are enthusiastic about the increased accuracy and the shorter treatment time. There are economic benefits to shorter treatment times also, reducing hospital workload and costs as well as the time off work and transport for patients and their families."
KIM uses previous images and images taken during a procedure to estimate a tumor's position, even a difference of a millimeter caused by a patient shifting his weight, according to previous studies. The system allows doctors to adjust a radiation beam while delivering the treatment, making it more accurate in the process.
The researchers point to several potential benefits of the new technology, including lower costs, shorter treatment periods, a reduction in hospital workload and less time patients need to dedicate to facilitating their treatment.
The current study has focused on prostate cancer but Keall said it may prove to be usable with other cancers affected by motion, including cancer of the lung, liver, kidney and pancreas.
"This Australian technology could become the global standard of care for many cancer patients," Keall said.