Background and purpose: A multi-centre clinical trial for prostate cancer patients provided an opportunity to introduce conformal radiotherapy with dose escalation. To verify adequate treatment accuracy prior to patient recruitment, centres submitted details of a set-up accuracy study (SUAS). We report the results of the SUAS, the variation in clinical practice and the strategies used to help centres improve treatment accuracy.
Materials and methods: The SUAS required each of the 24 participating centres to collect data on at least 10 pelvic patients imaged on a minimum of 20 occasions. Software was provided for data collection and analysis. Support to centres was provided through educational lectures, the trial quality assurance team and an information booklet.
Results: Only two centres had recently carried out a SUAS prior to the trial opening. Systematic errors were generally smaller than those previously reported in the literature. The questionnaire identified many differences in patient set-up protocols. As a result of participating in this QA activity more than 65% of centres improved their treatment delivery accuracy.
Conclusions: Conducting a pre-trial SUAS has led to improvement in treatment delivery accuracy in many centres. Treatment techniques and set-up accuracy varied greatly, demonstrating a need to ensure an on-going awareness for such studies in future trials and with the introduction of dose escalation or new technologies.