Purpose: To describe an emerging concept of high-precision radiotherapy, a modality characterized by adaptation to patient and organ movements, which might occur between fractions or even during radiation delivery.
Methods and results: Today's unprecedented technical capabilities to visualize the target volume and create conformal dose distributions allow for avoidance of critical structures or targeted treatment intensification within a conventionally imaged, anatomically defined tumor. The success of selective dose escalation depends on (1) correct staging and target volume identification, which can be improved by biological imaging, and (2) identification of biologically relevant subvolumes, which determine tumor control. Current efforts are directed at different methods, such as positron emission tomography and magnetic resonance spectroscopy, and integrating them into treatment planning.
Conclusion: Early clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of image- and biology-guided radiotherapy are ongoing. The same modalities might be used to determine the individual tumor response during treatment and to adapt therapy. Temporal changes in tumor biology, which might represent both a challenge and a chance with regard to adaptation of treatment, need to be addressed in greater detail.