Radiation oncology (London, England) 2017 11 1512(1) 179 doi 10.1186/s13014-017-0916-7
SCOPE 1 was the first UK based multi-centre trial involving radiotherapy of the oesophagus. A comprehensive radiotherapy trials quality assurance programme was launched with two main aims: 1. To assist centres, where needed, to adapt their radiotherapy techniques in order to achieve protocol compliance and thereby enable their participation in the trial. 2. To support the trial’s clinical outcomes by ensuring the consistent planning and delivery of radiotherapy across all participating centres.
A detailed information package was provided and centres were required to complete a benchmark case in which the delineated target volumes and organs at risk, dose distribution and completion of a plan assessment form were assessed prior to recruiting patients into the trial. Upon recruiting, the quality assurance (QA) programme continued to monitor the outlining and planning of radiotherapy treatments. Completion of a questionnaire was requested in order to gather information about each centre’s equipment and techniques relating to their trial participation and to assess the impact of the trial nationally on standard practice for radiotherapy of the oesophagus. During the trial, advice was available for individual planning issues, and was circulated amongst the SCOPE 1 community in response to common areas of concern using bulletins.
36 centres were supported through QA processes to enable their participation in SCOPE1. We discuss the issues which have arisen throughout this process and present details of the benchmark case solutions, centre questionnaires and on-trial protocol compliance. The range of submitted benchmark case GTV volumes was 29.8-67.8cm(3); and PTV volumes 221.9-513.3 cm(3). For the dose distributions associated with these volumes, the percentage volume of the lungs receiving 20Gy (V20Gy) ranged from 20.4 to 33.5%. Similarly, heart V40Gy ranged from 16.1 to 33.0%. Incidence of incorrect outlining of OAR volumes increased from 50% of centres at benchmark case, to 64% on trial. Sixty-five percent of centres, who returned the trial questionnaire, stated that their standard practice had changed as a result of their participation in the SCOPE1 trial.
The SCOPE 1 QA programme outcomes lend support to the trial’s clinical conclusions. The range of patient planning outcomes for the benchmark case indicated, at the outset of the trial, the significant degree of variation present in UK oesophageal radiotherapy planning outcomes, despite the presence of a protocol. This supports the case for increasingly detailed definition of practice by means of consensus protocols, training and peer review. The incidence of minor inconsistencies of technique highlights the potential for improved QA systems and the need for sufficient resource for this to be addressed within future trials. As indicated in questionnaire responses, the QA exercise as a whole has contributed to greater consistency of oesophageal radiotherapy in the UK via the adoption into standard practice of elements of the protocol.
The SCOPE1 trial is an International Standard Randomized Controlled Trial, ISRCTN47718479 .