Lifehouse Radiation Therapists to present at leading radiation oncology conference | Chris O'Brien Lifehouse
 In Lifehouse News

Research is thriving in Radiation Oncology with five of our Radiation Therapist (RTs) presenting at the 11th Annual Scientific Meeting of Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy (ASMMIRT) at the Brisbane Convention Centre this week.

ASMMIRT 2016 is Australasia’s leading conference for Radiographers, Radiation Therapists and the wider Medical Radiation Sciences community. The conference theme is Rise and Shine – Imaging and Therapy in the New World. This theme focuses on two main objectives, rising and shining as professionals: rising as a professional encourages interdisciplinary collaboration, advanced practice, research and quality improvement, whilst shining as a professional encourages the showcasing of contributions to healthcare and the challenges of the profession. The conference theme ties in nicely with the Lifehouse ethos of collaboration, respect, empowerment, nurturing and discovery.

The five RTs who have been selected to present at the conference are Aimee Lovett, Kelly Elsner, Shayne Smith, David Tait and Patrick Estoesta.

Aimee’s presentation (pictured left) discusses the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiology (RANZCR) Faculty of Radiation Oncology Horizon Scan. Horizon scanning is a regular initiative of the Faculty of Radiation Oncology (FRO) at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Radiologists (RANZCR). The ongoing horizon scanning project is intended to provide a resource to key stakeholders that are non-radiation oncology experts showing the techniques and technologies that are used in radiation therapy treatment as well as how these are used at a facility, regional and national level. Aimee has been involved in the horizon scanning project since 2011 when she was working at RANZCR as a Senior Projects Officer during a sabbatical from clinical radiation therapy practice. The original project and associated publications were reviewed in 2012, 2013 and 2015 and the dissemination of the horizon scan allows for opportunities to meet with stakeholders from areas such as government jurisdictions, policy, radiation oncology professions and industry and discuss issues important to the radiation therapy community.

Kelly’s (not pictured) study looks at how RTs can better provide psycho-social care to patients attending Radiation Oncology appointments. In the literature, up to one third of patients report unmet psychosocial needs. RTs are uniquely positioned to explore patient psychosocial needs, as RTs are routinely the only oncology team members in daily contact with these patients. The results showed that daily RT-delivered patient care can reduce patient anxiety, fear and loneliness by building relationships, providing information, education sessions, and emotional comfort. Screening and needs assessments can also increase RT knowledge and communication of patient issues. Importantly, failing to address patient anxiety can negatively impact patient outcomes, workflow, resources and staff. The review also identified potential to increase RT job satisfaction and enhance multidisciplinary care models.

Shayne (pictured second from left) and other members of medical and physics staff have been working together to develop a radiation treatment for breast cancer patients that allows a more targeted therapy to the breast and tumour cavity site. In order to help reduce the radiation dose to the lung and to account for the curvature of each individual patient’s breast shape a new ‘hybrid’ technique combining conventional radiotherapy and Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) has been currently implemented and now standardly used on patients in the department. This technique allows radiation therapists to better conform the dose to the individual patient’s shape and to lower the amount of radiation received by the lungs. The hybrid technique also reduces the total number of treatments a patient receives for the same effect as conventional treatment. Following the clinical implementation of this hybrid technique, a paper was accepted for publication in the Journal of Radiotherapy in Practice, an international journal specialising in current clinical oncology and radiotherapy techniques.

David (pictured right) will be presenting on the application of the International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurement Report 83 (ICRU 83) in radiation therapy treatment planning. The ICRU is the international body concerned with this dose reporting and the ICRU 83 provides recommendations for dose reporting in the setting of modern intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) techniques. The most recent clinical trials in which Lifehouse is participating in are adopting ICRU 83 dose reporting parameters and, along with ICRU recommendations to assess new techniques prior to application, Lifehouse investigation into more widespread use of these parameters was fully justified. By comparing an ICRU 83 example case with 159 recently completed Lifehouse head and neck IMRT patients this retrospective audit was able to conclude that these new dose reporting parameters could be adopted with limited impact on current Lifehouse practice. The audit proved Lifehouse to be producing head and neck IMRT plans of high quality and only minor adjustments to our formalised dose reporting parameters would modernise the Lifehouse H&N IMRT protocol to be consistent with current clinical trials.

Patrick (pictured second from right), along with a multidisciplinary team in Radiation Oncology, will be presenting the results of two projects that have now been clinically implemented at Lifehouse. His studies look at voluntary deep inspiration breath-hold (vDIBH) for patients undergoing breast cancer treatment. This technique allows for the reduction of radiation dose to the cardiac structures of the patient, namely the heart and the left anterior descending artery. The results of the study show that the vDIBH technique is a safe and efficient way to decrease potential long term toxicities in patients receiving this treatment.

The ASMMIRT conference will be an excellent platform to showcase, to the Radiation Oncology community, the quality of the research coming out of Lifehouse. We congratulate Aimee, Kelly, Shayne, David and Patrick for working together with a multidisciplinary team to drive excellence as well as their passion for innovative research.

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