A comparison between cobalt and linear accelerator-based treatment plans for conformal and intensity-modulated radiotherapy

Adams, E. J.; Warrington, A. P.
April 2008
British Journal of Radiology;Apr2008, Vol. 81 Issue 964, p304
Academic Journal
The simplicity of cobalt units gives them the advantage of reduced maintenance, running costs and downtime when compared with linear accelerators. However, treatments carried out on such units are typically limited to simple techniques. This study has explored the use of cobalt beams for conformal and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). Six patients, covering a range of treatment sites, were planned using both X-ray photons (6/10 MV) and cobalt-60 gamma rays (1.17 and 1.33 MeV). A range of conformal and IMRT techniques were considered, as appropriate. Conformal plans created using cobalt beams for small breast, meningioma and parotid cases were found to compare well with those created using X-ray photons. By using additional fields, acceptable conformal plans were also created for oesophagus and prostate cases. IMRT plans were found to be of comparable quality for meningioma, parotid and thyroid cases on the basis of dose-volume histogram analysis. We conclude that it is possible to plan high-quality radical radiotherapy treatments for cobalt units. A well-designed beam blocking/compensation system would be required to enable a practical and efficient alternative to multileaf collimator (MLC)-based linac treatments to be offered. If cobalt units were to have such features incorporated into them, they could offer considerable benefits to the radiotherapy community.


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