Radiotherapy Physics (SPE103)

10 credits

Aim of this module

Trainees will gain an understanding of dosimetry, codes of practice, treatment machines and treatment planning, together with relevant radiation protection legislation.

  1. Assist with the safe handling and operation of small sealed sources.
  2. Undertake a risk assessment and perform a radiation protection room survey.
  3. Operate treatment equipment safely (under supervision), selecting and using relevant measurement devices, undertaking basic measurements on the treatment machines. 
  4. Assist with routine quality control on external beam radiotherapy equipment and evaluate the appropriateness of action/tolerance levels. 
  5. Assist with the treatment-planning process from immobilisation to the start of treatment and produce and critically appraise routine MV photon treatment plans. 
  6. Perform quality assurance checks on treatment-planning systems. 
Number Work-based learning outcome Title Knowledge
1 1

Assist with the safe handling and operation of small sealed sources in the department, including the performance of strontium-90 consistency checks on dosimetry equipment.

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2 2

Perform a radiation protection room survey and discuss the results with your training officer.

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3 2

Perform a radiation risk assessment and discuss the results with your training officer.

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4 3

Operate treatment equipment safely and evaluate the operation of the interlocks

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5 3

Select an appropriate dosemeter and measure standard output, including assessment of the constancy and leakage of the measurement system and its significance.

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6 3

Relate standard output measurement to the relevant code of practice (MV/kV electron).

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7 3

Measure a beam profile at the depth of maximum dose and reference depth, and calculate the field size, penumbra, flatness and symmetry Explain the differences and relate to the beam specification

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8 3

Critically evaluate the function of the ionisation chamber in the linear accelerator and its importance for correct treatment delivery

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9 4

Assist with routine quality control on external beam radiotherapy equipment (including items such as light to radiation, quality index) and evaluate the appropriateness of action/tolerance levels

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10 5

Assess available immobilisation techniques and identify treatment sites that would most benefit

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11 5

Import images for treatment- planning purposes Evaluate the interactions between data systems and be able to critically assess the essential information, eg image quality assurance, slice requirements, etc

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12 5

Generate outlines for anatomical structures and geometrical volumes to aid planning based on Computed Tomography (CT) data sets

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13 5

Design treatment plans for two to four field treatments for a range of sites in accordance with International Commission on Radiation Units and Measurements (ICRU) Guidance and local clinical protocols (explain choice of modality/energy, beam arrangement,  and compensation)

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14 5

Appraise treatment plans, making use of dose volume information and dose constraints for organs at risk and the target volume

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15 5

Produce a range of routine MV photon treatment plans

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16 5

Perform manual calculations for basic treatment techniques, taking into account field size, wedge factor, change of FSD, off-axis, etc

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17 6

Perform and discuss routine quality assurance checks on the treatment planning/VSim system and the radiotherapy network

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You must complete
1 Case-based discussion(s)
1 of the following DOPS / OCEs
Assessment Title Type
Perform a radiation survey of a treatment room DOPS
Produce and evaluate a simple treatment plan DOPS
Measure the radiation output of a treatment machine DOPS

Important information

The academic parts of this module will be detailed and communicated to you by your university. Please contact them if you have questions regarding this module and its assessments. The module titles in your MSc may not be exactly identical to the work-based modules shown in the e-portfolio. Your modules will be aligned, however, to ensure that your academic and work-based learning are complimentary.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Describe the legislation that applies to safe working within the radiation, workshop and clinical environments. 
  2. Explain the physical principles behind the interaction of radiation with matter. 
  3. Describe the basis of clinical measurement. 
  4. Discuss and evaluate the role of Medical Physics in innovation and service development.

Indicative Content

  • Malignant disease and role of radiotherapy
  • Basic radiobiology
  • Introduction to radiotherapy equipment (treatment machines and dosimetry equipment)
  • Characteristics of clinical beams
  • Target volume localisation: equipment and methods
  • Principles of treatment planning
  • Treatment verification
  • Introduction to quality assurance, calibration, treatment accuracy and safety; standards
  • Radiation protection specific to radiotherapy: local rules, protection measurements

Clinical Measurement

  • The physiology of pressure, flow and electrophysiology
  • The physical principles underpinning measurements of pressure, flow and electrophysiology
  • Transducers for measuring pressure, flow and electrophysiology
  • Calibration, traceability of standards
  • Sources of error: random, systematic and human
  • Sensitivity and specificity of measurement techniques
  • Relationship to clinical pathology, data processing and interpretation