Brachytherapy for cancer of the cervix: An Australian and New Zealand survey of current treatment techniques

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Establishing guidelines for the practice of brachytherapy throughout Australia and New Zealand is one of the goals of the Australasian Brachytherapy Group. To better appreciate Australasian resources and conditions, the group conducted a survey in early 2005. The aims were to survey current practices, to emphasize variations in practice and to determine the availability of advanced imaging and treatment methods to assess resources. A survey was sent to all Australian and New Zealand radiotherapy departments. The survey requested details of treatment with respect to external beam radiotherapy, brachytherapy, optimization methods, reporting methods, scheduling brachytherapy and access to imaging and methods of work-up. Thirty-four departments were contacted with 27 (79%) responses returned. Twenty-one departments use brachytherapy. Doses and fractionation schedules varied and use of sectional imaging was minimal. Individualized dosimetry is practised in a limited fashion by 60% of the surveyed departments. There is high compliance with International Commission on Radiation Units 38 dose reporting recommendations. All brachytherapy units identified have access to CT and 85% to MRI within the hospital settings. Brachytherapy for cancer of the cervix is, currently, largely based on the Manchester system. The survey did emphasize considerable variation in dose and fractionation schemes between departments. The Australasian Brachytherapy Group subgroup intends to proceed with the process of formulating recommendations for cervix brachytherapy. It is intended that these will cover the use of image-based planning and treatment, target definition(s), verification of brachytherapy treatments and a uniform dose-reporting mechanism.

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