A system for simultaneous thermoradiotherapy was devised to investigate the possible benefits and/or complications of thermal radiosensitization in human superficial tumours. The system combines the well-known treatment modalities of external 915 MHz microwave hyperthermia and cobalt-60 teletherapy. Single waveguide applicators are utilized either attached to blocking trays, so that the gamma beam travels through a waveguide and into the patient (en face setup), or in a conventional way with the microwave propagation vector orthogonal to the gamma beam (orthogonal setup). With these setups a radiation fraction can be delivered in the middle of a 60-min, non-interrupted hyperthermia treatment. Temperatures and power level are remotely monitored and recorded outside the Cobalt room. Extensive measurements and testing showed that the operation of the hyperthermia system (generator, applicators, thermometry unit and temperature sensors) was not disrupted by irradiation and that the microwaves were confined to the treatment room and did not interfere with the operation of the Cobalt unit, of an adjacent linear accelerator or of an adjacent radiotherapy simulator. For the en face setup the dose distributions induced in solid water phantoms were uniform with the exception of a narrow (< 0.5 cm) region under the applicators' internal probes where 10-18% reduction exists. This dose defect is clinically smoothed using feathering techniques. The system has been successfully used without technical problems in 51 treatments in 15 patients (18 lesions) in a phase I/II clinical trial. An analysis of the thermal data showed that the temperature distributions achieved during simultaneous delivery have the same general characteristics of those achieved in conventional sequential hyperthermia with microwaves, and that the steady state distributions are maintained during the time of simultaneous irradiation. The tests performed in addition to the preliminary clinical experience clearly indicate that this type of combined therapy is technically feasible and safe. Here the system for simultaneous, external, superficial thermoradiotherapy and the implementation tests performed are described in detail. Preliminary clinical experience and results are also reported.
- External beam radiation
- Simultaneous hyperthermia and radiation
- Simultaneous thermoradiotherapy
- Superficial microwave hyperthermia