PHYSICS 7551 - Radiotherapy Physics

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2014

Radiation therapy involves the therapeutic use of controlled doses of radiation for cancer treatment in hospitals. This reading-tutorial course consists of 24 modules covering various aspects of Radiotherapy Physics. Course notes are available via the internet and a list of recommended text books. Topics include: units and definitions of physical quantities used in radiotherapy, radiobiological basis for radiotherapy, compartment analysis, measurement of radiation for radiotherapy, Bragg-Gray theory, absorbed dose measurements, depth-dose profiles, field correction factors, calibration of ionisation chambers for photon and electron beams, quality assurance protocols, treatment machines (linacs), treatment planning overview, beam data specification and acquisition, treatment planning: photons and electrons, single and multiple beams, conformal and intensity modulated RT, other beams: proton therapy, simulators and ancillary techniques, simulations, dosimetry and therapeutic techniques using unsealed sources, brachitherapy, shielding calculations in medical equipment installations.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code PHYSICS 7551
    Course Radiotherapy Physics
    Coordinating Unit School of Chemistry & Physics
    Term Semester 1
    Level Postgraduate Coursework
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 2 hours per week
    Assumed Knowledge PHYSICS 7011
    Course Description Radiation therapy involves the therapeutic use of controlled doses of radiation for cancer treatment in hospitals. This reading-tutorial course consists of 24 modules covering various aspects of Radiotherapy Physics. Course notes are available via the internet and a list of recommended text books. Topics include: units and definitions of physical quantities used in radiotherapy, radiobiological basis for radiotherapy, compartment analysis, measurement of radiation for radiotherapy, Bragg-Gray theory, absorbed dose
    measurements, depth-dose profiles, field correction factors, calibration of ionisation chambers for photon and electron beams, quality assurance protocols, treatment machines (linacs), treatment planning overview, beam data specification and acquisition, treatment planning: photons and electrons, single and multiple beams, conformal and intensity modulated RT, other beams: proton therapy, simulators and ancillary techniques, simulations, dosimetry and therapeutic techniques using unsealed sources, brachitherapy, shielding calculations in medical equipment installations.
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Scott Penfold

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    On completion of this course, students should be able to:

    1 Describe the basic principles underlying radiotherapy methods;
    2 Explain the principles of radiotherapy equipment;
    3 Define the characteristics of clinical beams and their measurement;
    4 Describe dosimetry measurements used in radiotherapy;
    5 Perform basic treatment planning in radiotherapy;
    6 Recognise safety aspects of imaging using ionising and non-ionising radiation;
    7 Perform basic QC for equipment in radiotherapy;
    8 Describe the use of sealed and unsealed sources in radiotherapy;
    9 Discuss a range of clinical applications.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Knowledge and understanding of the content and techniques of a chosen discipline at advanced levels that are internationally recognised. 1, 2, 4, 5, 7
    The ability to locate, analyse, evaluate and synthesise information from a wide variety of sources in a planned and timely manner. 3, 6, 9
    An ability to apply effective, creative and innovative solutions, both independently and cooperatively, to current and future problems. 1-9
    Skills of a high order in interpersonal understanding, teamwork and communication. 5, 7, 9
    A proficiency in the appropriate use of contemporary technologies. 1-9
    A commitment to continuous learning and the capacity to maintain intellectual curiosity throughout life. 1, 2, 5, 7, 9
    A commitment to the highest standards of professional endeavour and the ability to take a leadership role in the community. 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9
    An awareness of ethical, social and cultural issues within a global context and their importance in the exercise of professional skills and responsibilities. 5, 8, 9
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    • H. E. Johns and J. R. Cunningham, The Physics of Radiology, 4th edition, Thomas, Illinois, USA, 1983.
    • F. Khan, Radiotherapy Physics, 4th edition, Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, Baltimore, Maryland, USA 2010.
    • E. B. Podgorsak, (Editor), Radiation Oncology Physics: A Handbook for Teachers and Students, IAEA (2005).
    Recommended Resources
    • D. Greene and P.C. Williams, Linear Accelerators for Radiation Therapy, 2nd edition , IOP (1997).
    • P. Hoskin and C. Coyle (ed), Radiotherapy in Practice: Brachytherapy, Oxford University Press, (2005).
    • F.M. Khan and R.A. Potish, Treatment Planning in Radiation Oncology, Williams and Wilkins, (1998).
    • P. Metclafe, T. Kron and P. Hoban, The Physics of Radiotherapy X-Rays from Linear Accelerators, Medical Physics Publishing, Madison (1997).
    • J. van Dyk, The Modern Technology of Radiation Oncology – A Compendium for Medical Physicists and Radiation Oncologists, Medical Physics Publishing, (2005).
    • S. Webb, The Physics of Conformal Radiotherapy – Advances in Technology, IoP Publishing, (1997).
    • S Webb, The Physics of Three-Dimensional Radiation Therapy, IoP Publishing, (2001).
    • J. R. Williams & D. I. Thwaites Radiotherapy Physics in Practice 2nd edition, Oxford University Press, (2000)
    Online Learning
    • Students are required to access reading material from MyUni throughout the semester.
    • External students are required to attend workshops via audio-visual internet link.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Students are introduced to course content through lecture and independent reading. They develop their understanding through discussion, independent and group problem solving and completing assignments.
    Workload

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    A full-time student should expect to spend, on average, a total of 48 hours per week on their studies. This includes the formal contact time required for the course (e.g. lectures: 3 hours/week, tutorials: 1 hour/week, practicals: 3 hours/fortnight), as well as non-contact time (e.g. reading and revision). For a 3-unit course, the expected workload would be, on average, 12 hours per week.
    To complete their studies successfully, students are expected to attend all scheduled lectures, tutorials and compulsory practical classes, as well as commit additional time to individual study, group study and the completion of assessment tasks. For a student to satisfactorily complete the academic requirements of a typical 3-unit course, a minimum TOTAL time commitment of 12 hours per week is expected (i.e. contact PLUS non-contact time). In addition, students should expect to study for one week of the two-week mid-semester break, as well as during swot week and the examination period.
    Students who wish to excel and students whose background preparation for a course is poor should expect to commit additional time to that described above.
    Learning Activities Summary
    The course content will include the following:
    1. Physical Quantities used in Radiotherapy
      • Revision of physical quantities and units
      • Radiation and radioactivity
      • Beam attenuation
      • Interaction of x-rays with matter
      • Fundamental quantities in dosimetry
    2. Radiobiological Basis for Radiotherapy
      • Introduction: the role of radiotherapy in cancer treatment
      • Introduction to radiobiology
      • Survival curves and the statistical nature of radiation damage
      • TCP, NTCP and therapeutic ratio
      • Time dose and fractionation in radiotherapy
    3. Measurement of Radiation for Radiotherapy: Introduction
      • Electron interactions
      • Stopping power
      • Energy spectra of electrons
    4. Calculation of Absorbed Dose from Measurement of Charges
      • Mean stopping powers and restricted stopping powers
      • Ionization in gases and ionization in solids
      • Electronic equilibrium
      • The Bragg-Gray cavity
    5. Calculation of Absorbed Dose from Calibrated Ionisation Chambers Measurements Part 1
      • Determination of absorbed dose using an absolute ion chamber
      • Ion chambers
      • Determination of absorbed dose in a phantom using an exposure calibrated ion chamber
      • Determination of absorbed dose at energies above 3 Mev, absolute dosimetry
    6. Calculation of Absorbed Dose from Calibrated Ionisation Chambers Measurements Part 2
      • The cavity-gas calibration factor
      • Dosimetry for electron beams
      • Absorbed dose in the neighbourhood of an interface between different materials
    7. Calibration Protocols
      • Historical perspective - pre 1980
      • Absorbed dose determination in photon and electron beams
      • The Australasian protocol
      • Absorbed dose determination in external beam radiotherapy
      • Practical measurement of absolute dose from high energy photon and electron beams
    8. Radiotherapy Treatment Machines: Overview
      • x-ray generators
      • Thin-target and thick-target bremsstrahlung radiation
      • The continuous spectrum emitted by thick targets
      • Gamma ray beams and gamma ray unit
      • High energy (megavoltage) machines: design consideration
    9. Radiotherapy Treatment Machines
      • Betatrons
      • Cyclotrons
      • Medical linear accelerators: principle of operation
      • Medical linear accelerators: microwave generator
      • Medical linear accelerators: accelerating structure
      • Medical linear accelerators: beam delivery system
    10. Accelerator Specification and Acceptance Testing
      • Accelerator specifications and machine selection
      • Acceptance and safety interlocks testing
      • Radiation survey
    11. Ancillary Equipment: Simulators
      • The process of radiation therapy and definitions related to patient planning
      • Patient data acquisition
      • x-ray simulator
      • CT simulators
    12. Commissioning of a Linear Accelerator and Beam Data Acquisition
      • Treatment planning, relative and absolute dosimetry
      • Beam data acquisition system
      • What data do we need to characterize a beam?
      • Practical data collection program 
    13. Treatment Planning Techniques (Photon Single Beam)
      • Direct patient dose calculations
      • Alteration of isodose curves by contour shape and tissue inhomogeneities
      • Beam modifying devices
      • Energy absorption in tissue and integral dose
    14. Treatment Planning Techniques (Photon Multiple Beam Combination) 
      • Patient dose distribution using opposing pairs of beams and combinations of opposing pairs
      • Prediction of dose distribution for angled field, wedge pairs, three field technique and rotation therapy
      • Conformal radiotherapy
      • Total body irradiation
    15. Treatment Planning Techniques (Electron)
      • Physical aspects of the electron beam
      • Treatment planning
      • Electron arc therapy
      • Whole body electron irradiation
    16. Quality Assurance on Treatment Machines I: Calibration of Radiation Therapy Machines
      • Legal obligations
      • Secondary standard dosimeter and its calibration
      • Transfer of secondary standard to field instruments
      • Method of calibration of SXRT/DXRT and high energy machines
      • Practical experience in calibration of radiation therapy machines
    17. Treatment Planning Techniques: Planning Computer
      • Treatment planning algorithms – beam models
      • Calculation in a heterogeneous medium
      • TAR planning tools (power law and equivalent)
      • Use of CT in radiotherapy treatment planning
      • Quality assurance in treatment planning
    18. Treatment Planning Techniques: Monte Carlo and Superposition
      • The Monte Carlo simulation process
      • Sampling using random numbers
      • Components of the EGS4 (Electron Gamma Shower Version 4) system
      • Theory of superposition
      • Comparison with experimental results
    19. Conformal Radiotherapy in Practice
      • Principles of conformal radiotherapy
      • Dynamic wedges
      • Multi leaf collimators
      • Implementation of conformal radiotherapy
      • Dose accuracy and uncertainty, quality assurance
      • Clinical examples
    20. Principles of Brachytherapy Part 1
      • Overview of brachytherapy
      • Sources and applicators (LDR, PDR, HDR)
      • Radiation protection and patient monitoring
      • LDR seeds, including observation of treatment planning
      • Endovascular brachytherapy
    21. Principles of Brachytherapy Part 2
      • Principles of brachytherapy
      • Dose prescription and reporting in brachytherapy
      • Brachytherapy planning 
      • Calculation of actual treatment dose and dose optimization
    22. Treatment Delivery Verification
      • Checking the patient chart
      • Portal imaging
      • In-vivo measurements
      • Gel dosimetry
      • Record and verify system
    23. Review of Novel Radiotherapy Techniques
      • Intensity modulated radiotherapy
      • Implementation of intensity modulated radiotherapy
      • Intra-operative radiotherapy
      • Proton beam therapy
    24. Therapeutic Techniques Using Unsealed Sources
      • Production and properties of radioactive sources
      • Dosimetry of distributed radionuclides
      • Elementary compartmental analysis
      • Biological and effective half life
      • Modelling the metabolic process
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment Task
    Type of assessment
    Percentage of total assessment
    Hurdle?
    Objectives being assesses/achieved
    Workshop preparation Formative and Summative 10% No 1 - 9 (not all workshops will assess every objective)
    Assignments Formative and Summative 40% No 1 - 9 (not all workshops will assess every objective)
    Examination Summative 50% No 1 - 9
    Assessment Related Requirements
    To obtain a grade of Pass or better, a student must:
    • Attend the examination.
    Failure to meet these requirements (or not achieving the minimum mark for each learning requirement) will result in a grade of Fail (F).
    To be eligible for additional assessment on academic grounds a student must attend at least 60% of the tutorials.
    Assessment Detail
    Examination
    The end-of-semester examination will be based primarily on lecture/workshop material.

    Workshops
    Workshops will be held weekly.

    Absence from Classes due to illness (or other valid reason)
    If you miss a laboratory session or are unable to attend a workshop due to illness (or any other valid reason) you will need to fill out a form within 3 working days of your missed session. All forms are available from the School Office or on MyUNI.

    Submission
    Submission of Assigned Work
    Coversheets must be completed and attached to all submitted work. Coversheets can be obtained from the School Office (room G33 Physics) or from MyUNI. Work should be submitted via the assignment drop box at the School Office.

    Extensions for Assessment Tasks
    Extensions of deadlines for assessment tasks may be allowed for reasonable causes. Such situations would include compassionate and medical grounds of the severity that would justify the awarding of a replacement examination. Evidence for the grounds must be provided when an extension is requested. Students are required to apply for an extension to the Course Coordinator before the assessment task is due. Extensions will not be provided on the grounds of poor prioritising of time.

    Penalty for Late Submission of Assessment Tasks
    Assessment tasks must be submitted by the stated deadlines. There will be a penalty for late submission of assessment tasks: the submitted work will be marked ‘without prejudice’ and 10% of the obtained mark will be deducted for each working day (or part of a day) that an assessment task is late, up to a maximum penalty of 50% of the mark attained. An examiner may elect not to accept any assessment task that a student wants to submit after that task has been marked and feedback provided to the rest of the class. This procedure does not apply to the MyUni quizzes which must be completed before the deadlines.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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  • Policies & Guidelines
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