To survey the current use and future plans for image-guided brachytherapy (BT) for cervical cancer by radiation oncologists in Canada.
Canadian radiation oncologists treating gynecologic malignancies were identified in January 2009. A 29-item questionnaire (English and French) querying the current practice in the use of imaging in BT planning, and plans for transition to three-dimensional (3D) image guidance for BT for cervical cancer (curative intent, intact cervix), was electronically circulated. Questionnaire responses were tabulated and analyzed by respondent and by center.
Response rate was 62% (36 of 58 radiation oncologists), representing 71% (22 of 31) of Canadian radiation oncology centers with a gynecologic BT facility. Most of the centers were using high-dose-rate BT (68%), followed by low-dose-rate BT (23%) and pulsed dose-rate BT (10%). Main imaging used for treatment planning by center was plain X-ray (50%), computerized tomography (CT) (45%), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) (5%). For respondents using CT or MRI for planning, point A was the most common dose prescription point (50%), followed by gross tumor volume/clinical target volume as per Groupe Européen de Curiethérapie and the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology guidelines (44%). For centers using plain X-rays for planning, 73% planned to transition to a 3D image-based approach, with the majority to adopt CT imaging. Eighty percent of respondents agreed that 3D image-guided BT should become standard of care for treatment of cervical cancer in Canada, and additionally support the development of national guidelines.
Most of the Canadian radiation oncologists surveyed and Canadian cancer centers are either using 3D imaging and planning or transitioning to a 3D image-based approach within the next year. Point A remained a commonly documented prescription point. Access to MRI was very low. These results may lead to national treatment guidelines.