Evaluating competing and emerging technologies for stereotactic body radiotherapy and other advanced radiotherapy techniques

A. G.R. Martin, S. J. Thomas, S. V. Harden, N. G. Burnet

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) refers to the precise irradiation of an image-defined extracranial lesion, using a high total radiation dose delivered in a small number of fractions. A significant proportion of SBRT treatment has been successfully delivered using conventional gantry-based linear accelerators with appropriate image guidance and motion management techniques, although a number of specialist systems are also available. Evaluating the competing SBRT technologies is difficult due to frequent refinements to all major platforms. Comparison of geometric accuracy or treatment planning performance can be hard to interpret and may not provide much useful information. Nevertheless, a general specification overview can provide information that may help radiotherapy providers decide on an appropriate system for their centre. A number of UK randomised controlled trials (RCTs) have shown that better radiotherapy techniques yield better results. RCTs should play an important part in the future evaluation of SBRT, especially where there is a smaller volume of existing data, and where outcomes from conventional radiotherapy are very good. RCT comparison of SBRT with surgery is more difficult due to the radically different treatment arms, although successful recruitment can be possible if the lessons from previous failed trials are learned. The evaluation of new technology poses a number of challenges to the conventional RCT methodology, and there may be situations where it is genuinely not possible, with careful observational studies or decision modelling being more appropriate. Further development in trial design may have an important role in providing clinical evidence in a more timely manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)251-259
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Oncology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical trials
  • Dosimetry
  • Stereotactic ablative radiotherapy
  • Stereotactic body radiotherapy

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