Quality improvements in radiation oncology clinical trials

Koren Smith, Kenneth Ulin, Michael Knopp, Stephan Kry, Ying Xiao, Mark Rosen, Jeff Michalski, Matthew Iandoli, Fran Laurie, Jean Quigley, Heather Reifler, Juan Santiago, Kathleen Briggs, Shawn Kirby, Kate Schmitter, Fred Prior, Joel Saltz, Ashish Sharma, Maryann Bishop-Jodoin, Janaki MoniM. Giulia Cicchetti, Thomas J. FitzGerald

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Clinical trials have become the primary mechanism to validate process improvements in oncology clinical practice. Over the past two decades there have been considerable process improvements in the practice of radiation oncology within the structure of a modern department using advanced technology for patient care. Treatment planning is accomplished with volume definition including fusion of multiple series of diagnostic images into volumetric planning studies to optimize the definition of tumor and define the relationship of tumor to normal tissue. Daily treatment is validated by multiple tools of image guidance. Computer planning has been optimized and supported by the increasing use of artificial intelligence in treatment planning. Informatics technology has improved, and departments have become geographically transparent integrated through informatics bridges creating an economy of scale for the planning and execution of advanced technology radiation therapy. This serves to provide consistency in department habits and improve quality of patient care. Improvements in normal tissue sparing have further improved tolerance of treatment and allowed radiation oncologists to increase both daily and total dose to target. Radiation oncologists need to define a priori dose volume constraints to normal tissue as well as define how image guidance will be applied to each radiation treatment. These process improvements have enhanced the utility of radiation therapy in patient care and have made radiation therapy an attractive option for care in multiple primary disease settings. In this chapter we review how these changes have been applied to clinical practice and incorporated into clinical trials. We will discuss how the changes in clinical practice have improved the quality of clinical trials in radiation therapy. We will also identify what gaps remain and need to be addressed to offer further improvements in radiation oncology clinical trials and patient care.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1015596
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - Jan 26 2023


  • clinical trials
  • oncology
  • patient care
  • quality
  • radiation therapy


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