Radiotherapy target volume definition is a critical step in the radiotherapy treatment planning process for all tumour sites. New technology may improve the identification of tumour from normal tissue for the purposes of target volume definition. In assessing the proffered benefits of new technologies, rigorous methods of comparison are necessary. A review of published studies was conducted using PubMed (National Library of Medicine) between 1 January 1995 and 1 January 2009 using predefined search terms. The frequency of usage of the various methods of geometrical comparison (simple volume assessment, centre of mass analysis, concordance index and volume edge analysis) was recorded. Sixty-three studies were identified, across a range of primary tumour sites. The most common method of target volume analysis was simple volume measurement; this was described in 84% of the papers analysed. The concordance index type analysis was described in 30%, the centre of mass analysis in 9.5% and the volume edge analysis in 4.8%. In reporting geometrical differences between target volumes no standard exists. However, to optimally describe geometrical changes in target volumes, simple volume change and a measure of positional change should be assessed.
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