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Telemed Rep ; 2(1): 171-178, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1305407


Background: Social determinants of health directly affect cancer survival. Driven by advances in technology and recent demands due to COVID-19, telemedicine has the ability to improve patient access to care, lower health care costs, and increase workflow efficiency. The role of telemedicine in radiation oncology is not established. Materials and Methods: We conducted an IRB-approved pilot trial using a telehealth platform for the first post-radiation visit in patients with any cancer diagnosis. The primary endpoint was feasibility of using telehealth defined by completion of five telehealth visits per month in a single department. Secondary endpoints included the ability to assess patients appropriately, patient and physician satisfaction. Physicians were surveyed again during the pandemic to determine whether viewpoints changed. Results: Between May 27, 2016 and August 1, 2018, 37 patients were enrolled in the Telehealth in Post-operative Radiation Therapy (TelePORT) trial, with 24 evaluable patients who completed their scheduled telehealth visit. On average, 1.4 patients were accrued per month. All patients were satisfied with their care, had enough time with their physician and 85.7% believed the telehealth communication was excellent. All physicians were able to accurately assess the patient's symptoms via telehealth, whereas 82.3% felt they could accurately assess treatment-related toxicity. Physicians assessing skin toxicity from breast radiation were those who did not feel they were able to assess toxicity. Discussion and Conclusions: Both health care providers and patients have identified telemedicine as a suitable platform for radiation oncology visits. Although there are limitations, telemedicine has significant potential for increasing access of cancer care delivery in radiation oncology.

Cureus ; 13(2): e13354, 2021 Feb 15.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1145697


Background The COVID-19 pandemic challenges our ability to safely treat breast cancer patients and requires revisiting current techniques to evaluate optimal strategies. Potential long-term sequelae of breast radiation have been addressed by deep inspiration breath-hold (DIBH), prone positioning, and four-dimensional computed tomography (4DCT) average intensity projection (AveIP)-based planning techniques. Dosimetric comparisons to determine the optimal technique to minimize the normal tissue dose for left-sided breast cancers have not been performed. Methods Ten patients with left-sided, early-stage breast cancer undergoing whole breast radiation were simulated in the prone position, supine with DIBH, and with a free-breathing 4DCT scan. The target and organs at risk (OAR) contours were delineated in all scans. Target volume coverage and OAR doses were assessed. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and Kruskal-Wallis one-way ANOVA were used to detect differences in dosimetric parameters among the different treatment plans. Significance was set as p < 0.05. Results We demonstrate differences in heart and lung dose by the simulation technique. The mean heart doses in the prone, DIBH, and AveIP plans were 129 cGy, 154 cGy, and 262 cGy, respectively (p=0.02). The lung V20 in the prone, DIBH, and AveIP groups was 0.5%, 10.3% and 9.5%, respectively (p <0.001). Regardless of technique, lumpectomy planning target volume (PTV) coverage did not differ between the three plans with 95% of the lumpectomy PTV volume covered by 100.4% in prone plans, 98.5% in AveIP plans, and 99.3% in DIBH plans (p=0.7). Conclusions Prone positioning provides dosimetric advantages as compared to DIBH. When infection risks are considered as in the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, prone plans have advantages in reducing the risk of disease transmission. In instances where prone positioning is not feasible, obtaining an AveIP simulation may be useful in more accurately assessing heart and lung toxicity and informing a risk/benefit discussion of DIBH vs free breath-hold techniques.