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Hot Topics

Please contact Ashley Moses at PCI (312-558-1770 ext. 182) for all media inquiries and to learn more about the teleconference that will be scheduled before the meeting. Please note that certain abstracts are embargoed until presentation date.

The 2013 AAPM Annual Meeting features breakthrough research across the field of medical physics. Hot topics include medical imaging, patient safety and cancer therapy. Highlights are provided below. Additional materials are available at the meeting website.

X-ACT – Breakthrough Imaging Technique Combines X-rays, Ultrasound

Embargoed for Release until Thursday, Aug 8, 2013

Authors: Liangzhong Xiang, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, Lei Xing, Ph.D., professor, Guillem Pratx, Ph.D., assistant professor, Colin Carpenter, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, Moiz Ahmad, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, Amin Nikoozadeh, Ph.D., research associate and Butrus Khuri-Yakub, Ph.D., professor, Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif.

A new type of imaging – X-ray acoustic computed tomography (XACT) – combines X-rays and ultrasound to provide clearer images of tumors deeper in the body. The technique captures the “sound” (vibration) made when X-rays hit the tumor to form a clear image. X-ACT provides the ability to clearly see subtle differences, such as differentiating tumor from healthy tissue. Early work shows a growing potential for this new imaging technology in molecular imaging and monitoring the delivery of radiation dose in cancer therapy.

New Way of Looking at X-rays Could Mean Leap Forward in Finding Breast Cancer

Embargoed for Release until Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Authors:  Ke Li, M.Sc., John Garrett, M.Sc., Yongshuai Ge, M.Sc., and Guang-Hong Chen, Ph.D., professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison

Physicists at the University of Wisconsin report that a simple change to conventional breast tomosynthesis could make breast cancer easier to identify. Differential phase contrast (DPC) tomosynthesis distinguishes subtle differences in breast tissue, particularly between tissues with similar atomic numbers, which is very difficult to discern on conventional breast tomosynthesis. Whereas conventional breast tomosynthesis captures images that result from the absorption of X-rays, DPC tomosynthesis measures the slight change in beam angle as X-rays are refracted.

Using Light to Distinguish Cancers

Embargoed for Release until Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Authors: Suneetha Devpura, Ph.D., post-doctoral fellow, Indrin Chetty, Ph.D., director of the Medical Physics Division, Kenneth Barton, Ph.D., senior associate physicist, Farzan Siddiqui, M.D., Ph.D., vice chair and director of the Head and Neck Program, Henry Ford Health System, DetroitRatna Naik, Ph.D., chair and professor of physics, Jagdish Thakur, Ph.D., adjunct professor of physics, Wayne State University, Detroit
Vaman Naik, Ph.D., professor of physics, University of Michigan-Dearborn
Seema Sethi, M.D., research assistant professor of pathology, Fazlul Sarkar, Ph.D., distinguished professor of pathology, Wael Sakr, M.D., chair and professor of pathology, Karmanos Cancer Institute, Detroit
Janet Poulik, M.D., medical director of pathology, Michael Klein, M.D., Arvin I. Philippart M.D. Endowed Chair of Pediatric Surgical Research and professor of surgery, Children’s Hospital of Michigan, Detroit
Raja Rabah, M.D., director and professor of pathology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

By measuring molecular vibrations using the scattering of light, Raman spectroscopy can distinguish normal from cancerous tissue, including the unique biochemical signatures of prostate cancer, neuroblastic tumors, and invasive head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma. This study looks at using Raman spectroscopy to measure the response of tumor cells to radiation therapy.

A New Tool for Improving Safety in Radiation Therapy

Embargoed for Release until Wednesday, August 7, 2013 

Authors: Peter Dunscombe, Ph.D., professor and Derek Brown, Ph.D., senior medical physicist, Tom Baker Cancer Centre, Calgary, Alberta
Eric Ford, Ph.D., associate professor, University of Washington, Seattle
Michael Woodward, B.S., director, Information Services, AAPM, College Park, Md.
Steven Sutlief, Ph.D., chief medical physicist, Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Healthcare System, Seattle
Anne Greener, Ph.D., chief medical physicist, Veterans Affairs New Jersey Healthcare System, East Orange
Ellen Yorke, Ph.D., attending physicist, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York
Michael J. O'Neill, M.D., attending radiation oncologist, Radiation Oncology Associates, Lynchburg, Va.

The Safety Profile Assessment (SPA) is a new online tool providing a practical means for assessing and enhancing safety and quality in the radiation therapy clinic. The SPA, developed by AAPM’s Work Group on Prevention of Errors in consultation with other radiation oncology FINspecialists, is a question-and-answer survey which allows a multidisciplinary group of professionals to evaluate their practice against accepted standards using essential dimensions of quality and safety. The SPA tool provides benchmarking of the participant’s answers against comparable institutions. The tool automatically generates a Quality/Safety Improvement Log which helps participants implement and monitor safety improvement initiatives. A graphical output indicates the progress of these initiatives when the SPA is rerun.

Treating the “Target of the Day” in Prostate Radiation Therapy

Embargoed for Release until Monday, August 5, 2013

Authors: Manju Sharma, Ph.D, post-doctoral fellow, Jeffrey Siebers, Ph.D., professor and director, Medical Physics Graduate Program and Jeffrey Williamson, Ph.D., professor, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

Conventional radiation therapy defines a treatment plan on Day 1 of a patient’s therapy and follows that plan through up to 40 courses of radiation delivery. Medical physicists at Virginia Commonwealth University have shown through a “virtual clinical trial” that daily plans can and should change to be sure the most radiation is delivered to the tumor with as little as possible hitting healthy tissue. The technique involves combining daily imaging of the patient with adaptive re-planning, which then determines that day’s plan for therapy.

Large Cancer Centers Help Smaller Institutions Develop Consistent, Safe Radiation Therapy Treatment Plans

Embargoed for Release until Monday, August 5, 2013

Authors: Lindsey Appenzoller, M.S., medical physicist, Sasa Mutic, Ph.D., medical physicist, Deshan Yang, Ph.D., medical physicist and Jun Tan, Ph.D., research scientist, Washington University School of Medicine, Saint Louis
Kevin Moore, Ph.D., medical physicist, University of California, San Diego
Jessica Klaers, Ph.D. medical physicist, Turville Bay MRI and Radiation Oncology Clinic, Madison, Wis.

A large cancer center developed a system to ensure patients receive consistent, high quality radiation therapy whether they are being treated at a large regional center or a smaller clinic. The group built a modeling tool based on a sizable numbers of patients treated at a large institution that is easily transferred to other, smaller clinics. This tool can be used by the smaller institutions to develop their own models based on local experience and compare to the models created at the larger institution to ensure the same consistency as if they had a greater number of patients.  

About Medical Physicists
If you ever had a mammogram, ultrasound, X-ray, MRI, PET scan, or known someone treated for cancer, chances are reasonable that a medical physicist was working behind the scenes to make sure the imaging procedure was as effective as possible. Medical physicists help to develop new imaging techniques, improve existing ones, and assure the safety of radiation used in medical procedures in radiology, radiation oncology and nuclear medicine. They collaborate with radiation oncologists to design cancer treatment plans. They provide routine quality assurance and quality control on radiation equipment and procedures to ensure that cancer patients receive the prescribed dose of radiation to the correct location. They also contribute to the development of physics intensive therapeutic techniques, such as stereotactic radiosurgery and prostate seed implants for cancer to name a few. The annual meeting is a great resource, providing guidance to physicists to implement the latest and greatest technology in a community hospital close to you.

About AAPM
The American Association of Physicists in Medicine (www.aapm.org) is a scientific, educational, and professional organization with nearly 8,000 medical physicists. Headquarters are located at the American Center for Physics in College Park, Md.

Featured Interviews

AAPM: Trends in Medical Physics

AAPM President John Hazle, Ph.D., discusses trends in medical physics and major initiatives that the association is addressing in 2014 with Imaging Technology News Editorial Director Melinda Taschetta-Millane.



AAPM gratefully acknowledges the cooperation of ITN in conducting this interview and making it available here and on their website.