UNC physicians leaders in new radiation treatment guidelines

QUANTEC review replaces 20-year old guidelines.

The culmination of a two-year effort to review available studies and establish new guidelines for the safe treatment of cancer with radiation therapy was published today in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology and Physics.

Several UNC radiation oncology faculty members participated in the process establishing the new QUANTEC (Quantitative Analysis of Normal Tissue Effects in the Clinic) guidelines. These guidelines replace standards established almost 20 years ago, before the wide-spread use of 3D imaging technology that allows the more precise targeting of radiation to cancerous lesions.

“The new standards have resulted from a systematic review of radiation therapy dose/volume/outcome data on 16 organs. The new data was made possible by the more general use of 3D imaging during radiation planning. These new standards provide a logical framework to assess the risks of complex 3D doses that we now routinely consider,” said Lawrence B. Marks, MD, chair of the department of radiation oncology and co-editor of the QUANTEC study.

Noting the overall trend in the U.S. toward improved practice through evidence-based medicine, Marks adds, “Our goal is to make the practice of radiation oncology more standardized and efficient, less open to interpretation and ultimately as safe and effective as it can be, using state-of-the-art technology to treat cancer.”

Teams of physicians, physicists and statisticians/modelers reviewed the available literature for each organ to compile general dose/volume/outcome data, and make recommendations on regarding the selection of dose/volume prescriptions.

“We are pleased that UNC physician investigators played pivotal roles in this important analysis, which establishes new standards for this vital cancer treatment technology,” said Richard M. Goldberg, M.D., physician-in-chief of the N.C. Cancer Hospital.

“It is a privilege to treat patients with these outstanding experts on our multidisciplinary teams.”

David Morris, MD, clinical associate professor of radiation oncology and member of UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, was part of the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s Health Services Research Committee, which originally recommended a review of the standards in light of new research and clinical experience. He helped to jump-start and obtain funding for the effort.

Marks, who is also a member of UNC Lineberger, served as a co-editor and provided oversight to the entire project in addition to leading the group that established guidelines for radiation therapy to the lung.

Contact:  Ellen de Graffenreid, (919) 962-3405, edegraff@med.unc.edu