Background and purpose: A survey was performed in 1996 to investigate the structures and the process of radiation therapy treatment planning in clinical practice within northern Italy, with particular emphasis on the current and future implementation of 3D equipment and techniques. Materials and methods: Of 57 existing radiation therapy (RT) centres covering a population of 25 million people (45% of the total population of Italy) and treating over 58 000 cancer patients (70% of the cancer cases in Italy) each year, 46 centres were deemed eligible for the survey; a questionnaire was sent to a medical physicist working in each eligible RT centre, 40 of whom responded, making the basis for this report. Results: A dedicated CT scanner was available in 25% of the responding centres and a total of 49 radiation therapy planning systems (RTPS) were reported; none of the RTPS were able to perform 3D calculations, but 50% of the centres had an advanced 2D or 2.5D system. Connection between CT scan and RTPS was by tape or disk in 62% of centres. Immobilization devices were used frequently for head and neck patients (88% of centres), but not for lung (16%) or prostate cancer (24%) patients; the number of contoured slices was largely variable, exceeding 10 in only about 30% of the responding centres. The average working time per patient seemed to closely reflect the number of slices used and the number of critical organs contoured. Finally, the majority of the responding physicists did not favour the use of more than 20 CT slices for 3D treatment planning, nor did they forecast a general spread of this technique in the next 2-3 years. Conclusions: This survey has shown (1) a heterogeneous picture, with 20% of centres ready to implement 3D techniques and 20% of centres lacking the possibility of planning treatments and (2) a general difficulty in coping with the workload represented by 3D treatment planning.
- Radiation therapy facilities
- Treatment planning
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging