Radiotherapy treatment planning studies contribute significantly to advances and improvements in radiation treatment of cancer patients. They are a pivotal step to support and facilitate the introduction of novel techniques into clinical practice, or as a first step before clinical trials can be carried out. There have been numerous examples published in the literature that demonstrated the feasibility of such techniques as IMRT, VMAT, IMPT, or that compared different treatment methods (e.g. non-coplanar vs coplanar treatment), or investigated planning approaches (e.g. automated planning). However, for a planning study to generate trustworthy new knowledge and give confidence in applying its findings, then its design, execution and reporting all need to meet high scientific standards. This paper provides a ‘quality framework’ of recommendations and guidelines that can contribute to the quality of planning studies and resulting publications. Throughout the text, questions are posed and, if applicable to a specific study and if met, they can be answered positively in the provided ‘RATING’ score sheet. A normalised weighted-sum score can then be calculated from the answers as a quality indicator. The score sheet can also be used to suggest how the quality might be improved, e.g. by focussing on questions with high weight, or by encouraging consideration of aspects given insufficient attention. Whilst the overall aim of this framework and scoring system is to improve the scientific quality of treatment planning studies and papers, it might also be used by reviewers and journal editors to help to evaluate scientific manuscripts reporting planning studies.

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Radiotherapy & Oncology
Department of Radiation Oncology

Hansen, C.R., Crijns, W., Hussein, M., Rossi, L., Gallego, P., Verbakel, W., … Heijmen, B. (2020). Radiotherapy Treatment plannINg study Guidelines (RATING): A framework for setting up and reporting on scientific treatment planning studies. Radiotherapy & Oncology, 153, 67–78. doi:10.1016/j.radonc.2020.09.033