A California medical software company has launched the first "inverse planning" system for helping cancer treatment specialists optimize the placement of radioactive seeds used in the brachytherapy process. Optimization improves the treatment by helping meet physician-set constraints for consistent radiation doses to tumor cells while minimizing effects on nearby structures.
Used for treating prostate cancer and other forms of the disease, the new system is based on complex numerical optimization algorithms licensed from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Beyond improving the overall treatment, the new system dramatically reduces the time required for planning the seed placement.
The Panther Brachy InversePlan system, announced by Prowess, Inc. at the annual meeting of the American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology, improves local tumor control by more consistently focusing radiation while reducing the number of radioactive seeds and needles used. Because the treatment planning can now be done in less than a minute compared to hours with older systems planning can be done just prior to seed implantation. That eliminates an extra clinical visit and ensures that the plan is based on the dimensions of the tumor and organ at the time of implantation.
"From the clinical side, this is a significant advance in being able to treat prostate cancer with fewer side effects while providing better local tumor control," said Eva Lee, a mathematician and associate professor in Georgia Tech's School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. "From the clinician's point of view, this will allow physicians to prescribe how they want the radiation to be applied, and the system will produce an optimized plan to do that. The system will produce a better outcome, reduce the amount of time required to design the plan, and allow patients to recover more quickly."