Cancer forms one of the major causes of death in Europe. Radiosurgery constitutes an important help in a great deal of cases but often treatments fail, either because the tumours are not precisely located or the irradiation does not reach every part of them. In clinical practice, commercial treatment planning systems are used which do not fully take account of the patient's internal anatomical structure. On the other hand, the much more accurate Monte-Carlo simulation system is far too expensive and time-consuming. The RAPT project has addressed this problem by developing a low-cost parallel Monte-Carlo code where the individual patient data are captured from CT images using a graphical interface.
In the Esprit based RAPT project, several partners are working together to reconcile both principles of high quality and low cost in radiotherapy treatment planning. The Parallel Applications Centre (PAC) at the University of Southampton collaborates with Ospedali Galliera in Genoa and Ospedalieri Molinette in Turin in order to design a radiosurgery computer simulation system while using a parallel computer from Parsytec.
Practitioners apply computer modelling for simulation of radiosurgery treatments to try to ensure that the tumour receives a lethal dose, but surrounding healthy tissues are not damaged. Thus, RAPT has developed a code for cranial radiosurgery simulation which will achieve a run-time of under one hour and will cost less than 150.000 ecu. The code has been integrated with patient CT data captured with a graphical user interface for typical hospital environment use and which was developed by EDS Italy.
At present, the RAPT system is being evaluated clinically at Molinette where old cases are retrospectively being assessed to determine its potential to reduce failure rates in radiosurgery treatments. The next step will be to convince a medical equipment supplier to turn the prototype system into a commercial product based on parallel computing technology.
Accurate, yet affordable radiotherapy treatment planning can save more people from cancer every year. The commercialisation of the RAPT system is therefore of capital importance. If you want to follow the further developments, please check in at the Parallel Applications Centre site in Southampton.