Our Commitment to Safety
in Radiation Therapy
Radiation safety and quality control are of the highest importance to us. We maintain exceptional safety measures to protect patients and help ensure the most beneficial outcomes.
Our highly trained team works with a united goal: to deliver the planned dose of radiation to the precise location with the least impact on healthy tissue—and to provide that therapy in a caring and compassionate manner.
Our radiation therapy team brings years of the highest training and professional experience to our safety commitment. The team includes:
- board-certified radiation oncologists
- board-certified Ph.D. physicists
- board-certified dosimetrists
- board-certified radiation therapists
- radiation therapy nurses
Planning and Treatment Process
We develop each radiation therapy protocol using a planning and treatment process based on professional recommendations by the American Association of Physicists in Medicine and the Joint Commission (JCAHO), as well as state and federal radiation safety regulations.
Radiation usually is delivered by an external beam generated by a linear accelerator. This often uses sophisticated Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Image-Guided Radiation Therapy (IGRT) to ensure an optimal computer-generated treatment plan. Through this system, we are able to verify the correct application of each treatment according to the plan and correct performance of each machine. Equipment is checked weekly, monthly and quarterly.
Individual Treatment Plan Reviews
Many safeguards enable us to achieve the highest standards for quality and safety:
- Every treatment plan is reviewed by the radiation oncologist and two physicists before being put into action.
- An FDA secondary dose calculation program is used to conform the dose.
- Data is sent to a “record and verify” software system and independently checked by two physicists and a senior radiation therapist prior to treatment.
- Further dose measurements are made by a physicist prior to treatment for every IMRT and complex radiation case.
- Two certified radiation therapists are present for each treatment to check each other’s work.
- Real-time dose measurements are made with each treatment field to ensure exact compliance with the plan.
- A radiation oncologist approves the placement of radiation fields, which are verified with x-ray films, electronic images or Calypso GPS beacons.
- All patient and treatment records are reviewed weekly by a team of radiation oncologists, physicists and senior radiation therapists, with a final review at the completion of therapy.
Similar exacting procedures are in place for stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), brachytherapy and prostate seed implantation.
Tumor (Cancer Case Review) Conference – Participation and Research
Physicians in the Division of Radiation Oncology are active participants in the many tumor conferences of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Abington – Jefferson Health. At these cancer case review sessions, a multidisciplinary group of doctors, nurses and other professionals discuss therapy, staging and adherence to National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) treatment guidelines.
Our division is very active in clinical trial research from cancer study groups, including the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) and Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG).
Inspections and Accreditations
The Radiation Oncology program is accredited by both the RTOG and the GOG. It is reviewed and inspected by federal and state organizations on a regular basis, including the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, State Environmental Protection Agency, as well as independently audited by the Physics Branch of MD Anderson Hospital. Every effort and resource is expended to provide cutting-edge treatment and adherence to the highest safety standards.
The technology and rigorous supervision described here does not routinely exist in all community hospitals or independent radiation facilities. For further information, contact a member of the Division of Radiation Oncology at 215-481-2800.