Press release

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Works to Advance Radiation Therapy for Children with Cancer

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Doctors at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles continue to lead the field of
radiation oncology by pushing the leading edge of technological
advances. A new report by Arthur
Olch, PhD
, highlights use of specialized software that could advance
treatment accuracy for pediatric cancer patients.

During radiation therapy, patient position must be stable from session
to session to ensure radiation beams are properly targeting the tumor.
For this reason, x-ray images are taken before each treatment. Radiation
therapists can use this information to reorient the patient so that the
position is exactly the same each time. Doctors at CHLA are taking this
already rigorous process one step further. From early in its
development, Dr. Olch, a radiation physicist, has been evaluating the
use of new software to advance quality assurance in radiation therapy.
In a recent publication,
he highlights the use of this technological advance to aid in the
treatment of pediatric cancers.

Radiation therapy uses a beam of targeted x-rays that kill cancer cells
over the course of treatment. After the beam passes through the patient,
it is captured on an imaging panel. Dr. Olch and his team make use of
the information carried by these beams – called exit images
using the automated software. These images contain important information
about the exact dose being delivered to the tumor and surrounding
tissues and can be compared to the planned doses. Up to 20 images might
be generated per treatment session. With treatments occurring every day
for several weeks, this makes for an unwieldy amount of data to manually
process. Now, radiation oncology staff have a tool that will do this in
seconds. The program automates not only image capture but also analysis.

Analyzing these images provides new information that allows further fine
tuning of the radiation beams and patient position from session to
session. This, says Dr. Olch, gives radiation oncologists more
information that can be used to account for anatomy changes in real
time. “If a patient gains or loses weight, their dimensions change,” he
says. “Likewise, as the tumor shrinks, radiation beams need to take a
different trajectory.”

Adjustments are routinely made as a standard of care, but by utilizing
the latest technological advances, CHLA radiation oncologists are
redefining this standard. “We have a very comprehensive quality
assurance strategy,” says Dr. Olch, “and this software is an important
addition to our already high standard of care.”

What does this mean for patients? As one of the only pediatric centers
in the country to adopt and use this new technology, CHLA gives patients
the best chance at fighting their disease. “If your child needs
radiation therapy, we are the only place around using this system,” says
Dr. Olch. “It’s difficult to say at this point whether this will
necessarily cure more children. But if we can better target their tumors
and refine our radiation dosing, we are reducing toxicity and giving
kids their best possible chance.”

Dr. Olch is also a Professor of Clinical Radiation Oncology at USC. He
co-authored the publication with Kyle O’Meara and Kenneth Wong, MD. Dr.
Olch provides consulting services to Sun Nuclear Corporation, who
provided PerFRACTION™ software but did not fund the study.

About Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been ranked the top children’s
hospital in California and sixth in the nation for clinical excellence
by the prestigious U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. The
Saban Research Institute at CHLA is one of the largest and most
productive pediatric research facilities in the United States. CHLA also
is one of America’s premier teaching hospitals through its affiliation
since 1932 with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of
Southern California. For more, visit CHLA.org, the child
health blog
and the research
blog
.