Thanks to our enthusiastic, inquisitive customers and new friends, our presence at the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) annual meeting (July 30-August 3, Denver, Colorado) was a great success.
Monaco® treatment planning, MOSAIQ® Oncology Information System, the new Venezia™ advanced gynecological applicator and the promise of MR in RT, were all very popular topics of discussion among booth visitors. Wavelength (WL) interviewed Abhi Chakrabarti, PhD, Treatment Planning Portfolio, Elekta about the conference.
WL: What was the theme of this year’s AAPM meeting
Abhi: “Connecting our pathways. Unifying our profession.”
WL: What does that mean and why is it important?
Abhi: The whole field of cancer treatments is undergoing a rapid transition as new technologies enable earlier diagnosis and offer enhanced treatment options for the patient, facilitating care management from an acute to a chronic disease. The demand to treat more patients and improve outcomes while reducing the cost of these treatments is a significant challenge.
WL: How can Elekta address this challenge?
Abhi: We can meet this challenge through collaborative work among medical physicists involved in diagnostic radiology and radiotherapy. This message was reinforced several times at the President’s Symposium by the heads of the major societies, Richard Ehman from RSNA, Brian Kavanagh from ASTRO, and Melissa Martin, from AAPM.
But that isn’t all. Industry also plays a key role in enabling much of this through innovation. And, to highlight its importance in this conversation, Paul Naine, Director, Clinical Operations at Elekta, was invited to be the voice of the industry at this event. Paul’s message was clear. Medical physicists, with a toolbox of skillsets enabling communication, education and collaboration have tremendous value to offer. The closer the collaboration between the large teams of medical physicists at companies like Elekta and those in health care settings, the more effective the innovation in enhancing cancer care. Unifying the profession is becoming more relevant than ever.
WL: How was this theme reflected during the meeting?
Abhi: There were several major, recurring talking points during the scientific sessions in the conference. These included the increasing role of MR in radiotherapy, the possibilities offered by escalating the dose through stereotactic treatments, the efficiency gains and enhancements in quality through better data management, software automation and improved interoperability between the devices.
WL: What are Elekta’s objectives?
Abhi: We aim to be the innovation leader in oncology management technologies. Innovation that leads to enhanced effectiveness, either by increasing the impact of existing treatments or by introducing new treatments, to deliver better outcomes at reduced cost through improved performance and simplified workflow.
WL: How did these objectives translate to Elekta’s activities at AAPM?
Abhi: At the Elekta users’ meeting Dr. Stathakis, from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Univ. Of Texas, gave a talk on their evaluation of Dynamic Conformal Arc Therapy (DCAT) treatments with Versa HD. The ability to deliver dose with reduced treatment times increases the options to treat lung SBRT more effectively.
Elekta’s MR-linac* is an example of the new treatments being made possible with innovation. The team from MD Anderson, an MR-linac consortium member, shared its results on the rigorous testing clinicians and scientists were performing on the device, highlighting the impressive quality and geometric fidelity of the MR images; the control of the radiation delivery in the magnetic field; and the integrity of the treatment planning software in predicting the dose to be delivered during treatment.
The interest in our MR-linac was huge at AAPM. So, when Dr. Geoffrey Ibbott, Professor and Deputy Head, Division of Radiation Oncology, University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, gave his talk, titled ”Commissioning and Dosimetry of a hybrid MR-linac” at the Elekta lunch symposium there wasn’t a spare seat in the house!
WL: What else did we showcase at AAPM?
Abhi: At the Elekta booth there was a wide range of products on display:
- External beam radiotherapy: the accuracy of Monaco and flexibility of MOSAIQ
- Brachytherapy: the security in the investments offered by Venezia and Flexitron
- Quality Assurance: an integrated experience to streamline routine QA and centralizing the results with AQUA
- Analytics: offering the reality to monitor and improve operational performance and the possibility of enhancing clinical decision support with MOSAIQ Oncology Analytics solutions.
- The explosion of data and how best to use and manage it to maximize the benefits were probably the biggest talking points during the event with a large number of publications on the benefits of incorporating Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning.
WL: How are our goals and objectives relevant to AAPM’s aspirations?
Abhi: Elekta has been a leader and a pioneer in the oncology digital ecosystem. Our ambition is to expand this leadership with further innovations in the field of cloud computing and networking, big data management and next generation workflow automations with Deep Learning and Artificial Technologies.
The expertise that exists within Elekta in these technologies was evident as Dr. Xiao Han, Senior Clinical Scientist, employed these very technologies for his submission in the AAPM Thoracic Auto-Segmentation Challenge and was awarded 1st Place in a highly contested event. Harnessing this type of talent to create our solutions will not only help Elekta realize its ambitions but this type of activity also illustrates the values of connecting the pathways and unifying the profession.
* Elekta’s MR-linac is a work in progress and not available for sale or distribution.