Radiation oncology is a very precise and modern speciality with high-quality standards.
Before, during and after a radiation oncology treatment the medical and physics team quantifies exactly which radiation doses are needed for the patient. In addition, control mechanisms are in place to ensure that the treatment given complies with what was prescribed. This involves advanced imaging to check if the patient is correctly positioned on the treatment table, verifying if the treatment beam delivers exactly the required dose at the surface of the patient, and dozens of other quality measures. By doing so, radiation oncologists go beyond quality initiatives taken in many other medical specialities.
The quality manager
Radiotherapy departments have a long tradition in quality control, in the past mainly managed by the physics team. But quality goes way beyond the physics aspects of the treatment, so nowadays a dedicated quality manager is present in all radiotherapy departments.
Quality control during the treatment
Portal imaging and cone beam CTs are not the only ways to verify the correct execution of the treatment, other measurements can be done as well. For instance: measuring which dose is detected near the skin at the entrance of a treatment beam, or which is still present at the exit of the beam(s).
Quality control procedures
In-vivo dosimetry is just one of the possible quality control procedures. The medical, physics and technologists’ team have a whole array of supplementary quality control systems to check the correct execution of the treatment. Most of these systems are based on extra images being obtained before/during/after the treatment to check the correct positioning of the tumour relative to the treatment beams.
Long before any other medical speciality, radiation oncologists, strongly helped by their colleague medical physicists, seriously invested in structural quality control measures. Have a look at several quality initiatives on this page.