A comparison between radiation therapists and medical specialists in the use of kilovoltage cone-beam computed tomography scans for potential lung cancer radiotherapy target verification and adaptation
Target volume matching using cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) is the preferred treatment verification method for lung cancer in many centers. However, radiation therapists (RTs) are trained in bony matching and not soft tissue matching. The purpose of this study was to determine whether RTs were equivalent to radiation oncologists (ROs) and radiologists (RDs) in alignment of the treatment CBCT with the gross tumor volume (GTV) defined at planning and in delineating the GTV on the treatment CBCT, as may be necessary for adaptive radiotherapy. In this study, 10 RTs, 1 RO, and 1 RD performed a manual tumor alignment and correction of the planning GTV to a treatment CBCT to generate an isocenter correction distance for 15 patient data sets. Participants also contoured the GTV on the same data sets. The isocenter correction distance and the contoured GTVs from the RTs were compared with the RD and RO. The mean difference in isocenter correction distances was 0.40. cm between the RO and RD, 0.51. cm between the RTs, and RO and 0.42. cm between the RTs and RD. The 95% CIs were smaller than the equivalence limit of 0.5. cm, indicating that the RTs were equivalent to the RO and RD. For GTV delineation comparisons, the RTs were not found to be equivalent to the RD or RO. The alignment of the planning defined GTV and treatment CBCT using soft tissue matching by the RTs has been shown to be equivalent to those by the RO and RD. However, tumor delineation by the RTs on the treatment CBCT was not equivalent to that of the RO and RD. Thus, it may be appropriate for RTs to undertake soft tissue alignment based on CBCT; however, further investigation may be necessary before RTs undertake delineation for adaptive radiotherapy purposes.