Multicentre quality assurance of intensity-modulated radiation therapy plans: A precursor to clinical trials
A multicentre planning study comparing intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) plans for the treatment of a head and neck cancer has been carried out. Three Australian radiotherapy centres, each with a different planning system, were supplied a fully contoured CT dataset and requested to generate an IMRT plan in accordance with the requirements of an IMRT-based radiation therapy oncology group clinical trial. Plan analysis was carried out using software developed specifically for reviewing multicentre clinical trial data. Two out of the three plans failed to meet the prescription requirements with one misinterpreting the prescription and the third failed to meet one of the constraints. Only one plan achieved all of the dose objectives for the critical structures and normal tissues. Although each centre used very similar planning parameters and beam arrangements the resulting plans were quite different. The subjective interpretation and application of the prescription and planning objectives emphasize one of the many difficulties in carrying out multicentre IMRT planning studies. The treatment prescription protocol in a clinical trial must be both lucid and unequivocally stated to avoid misinterpretation. Australian radiotherapy centres must show that they can produce a quality IMRT plan and that they can adhere to protocols for IMRT planning before using it in a clinical trial.