Quality Assurance Needs for Modern Image-Based Radiotherapy: Recommendations From 2007 Interorganizational Symposium on "Quality Assurance of Radiation Therapy: Challenges of Advanced Technology"

Jeffrey F. Williamson, Peter B. Dunscombe, Michael B. Sharpe, Bruce R. Thomadsen, James A. Purdy, James A. Deye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


This report summarizes the consensus findings and recommendations emerging from 2007 Symposium, "Quality Assurance of Radiation Therapy: Challenges of Advanced Technology." The Symposium was held in Dallas February 20-22, 2007. The 3-day program, which was sponsored jointly by the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO), American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM), and National Cancer Institute (NCI), included >40 invited speakers from the radiation oncology and industrial engineering/human factor communities and attracted nearly 350 attendees, mostly medical physicists. A summary of the major findings follows. The current process of developing consensus recommendations for prescriptive quality assurance (QA) tests remains valid for many of the devices and software systems used in modern radiotherapy (RT), although for some technologies, QA guidance is incomplete or out of date. The current approach to QA does not seem feasible for image-based planning, image-guided therapies, or computer-controlled therapy. In these areas, additional scientific investigation and innovative approaches are needed to manage risk and mitigate errors, including a better balance between mitigating the risk of catastrophic error and maintaining treatment quality, complimenting the current device-centered QA perspective by a more process-centered approach, and broadening community participation in QA guidance formulation and implementation. Industrial engineers and human factor experts can make significant contributions toward advancing a broader, more process-oriented, risk-based formulation of RT QA. Healthcare administrators need to appropriately increase personnel and ancillary equipment resources, as well as capital resources, when new advanced technology RT modalities are implemented. The pace of formalizing clinical physics training must rapidly increase to provide an adequately trained physics workforce for advanced technology RT. The specific recommendations of the Symposium included the following. First, the AAPM, in cooperation with other advisory bodies, should undertake a systematic program to update conventional QA guidance using available risk-assessment methods. Second, the AAPM advanced technology RT Task Groups should better balance clinical process vs. device operation aspects-encouraging greater levels of multidisciplinary participation such as industrial engineering consultants and use-risk assessment and process-flow techniques. Third, ASTRO should form a multidisciplinary subcommittee, consisting of physician, physicist, vendor, and industrial engineering representatives, to better address modern RT quality management and QA needs. Finally, government and private entities committed to improved healthcare quality and safety should support research directed toward addressing QA problems in image-guided therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S2-S12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1 SUPPL.
StatePublished - May 1 2008


  • Advanced technology radiotherapy
  • Brachytherapy
  • Image-guided radiotherapy
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy
  • Quality assurance


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