Provision Dosimetrists Win Big with Protons
In honor of National Medical Dosimetrist’s Day, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville wants to call attention to recent accomplishments of members of our medical dosimetry team. This spring, medical dosimetrists from all over the world participated in a competition to create the best dosimetry plan to treat a specified breast cancer patient. The Provision dosimetrists’ submissions were awarded top scores.
First, what is a medical dosimetrist? A medical dosimetrist is a key part of the radiation oncology team. After the radiation oncologist has written a prescription for the desired radiation dose to specified tumor volumes, with the help of specialized computer programs the medical dosimetrist designs a treatment plan. This plan plots how to deliver the prescribed amounts of radiation to the tumor while avoiding exposing healthy tissue to radiation.
There were 240 treatment plans submitted by participants who entered the competition sponsored by ProKnow Systems and the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD). These plans were scored on specified metrics, including the unnecessary amount of radiation received by the surrounding healthy tissue. Plans submitted could earn up to 150 points for meeting every objective.
All the Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville dosimetrists designed and submitted plans. By using the conformality of proton therapy, as delivered with pencil beam scanning, their plans could treat the 5 specific target areas of the breast cancer patient while minimizing the radiation going to the heart, lungs, esophagus, and other breast.
Every plan submitted by Provision’s staff earned the maximum 150 points, a perfect score! Of note, the three dosimetry students working at Provision took the top three spots in the student category of the competition.
The proton therapy plans consistently scored better than the plans using photons (x-rays). One of the measures evaluated was the overall amount of radiation dose delivered to the patient.
Proton plans had significantly lower overall dose. This is highly desirable. Reducing the unnecessary radiation dose the patient receives, decreases his/her overall risks of secondary cancers and unwanted side effects. In the example left breast cancer case, this reduction in unnecessary dose to the heart is especially important to reduce the patient’s risk of cardiovascular events later in life.
The winning scores of these dosimetrists are more than just bragging rights. This is another demonstration of the value of proton therapy to patients. The bottom line is, we all win with protons.