2016 AAMD / RSS Plan Study

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Our 2016 Plan Study will not only be bigger and better than ever, but will also usher in a new era with groundbreaking new technology designed to maximize our learning experience.

This year’s study is a collaborative effort between the American Association of Medical Dosimetrists (AAMD), the Radiosurgery Society (RSS), and a new technical consortium who has built a cloud-based system called “ProKnow” that will not only manage the entire study with a cloud-based engine, but is programmed to give you real-time feedback, plan scoring, and interactive analytics. We will say more about that in a bit, but for now, let’s give a little background:

The Case: SBRT Prostate

This year’s study will feature an SBRT Prostate case, to be treated in five (5) fractions, with a prescription dose of 36.25 Gy to the PTV and 40 Gy to the prostate. Plans will be scored objectively based on many different target and organ-at-risk metrics and their respective scoring functions. The exact details of the dataset and scoring metrics will be published as part of the comprehensive study instructions. The plan scoring algorithm was built by a team of experts including: Michael Zelefsky, M.D., Robert Meier, M.D., Mary Ellen Masterson-McGary, M.S., Brian Wang, Ph.D., and Ben Nelms, Ph.D. This year’s patient images and contours were provided by Jun Yang, Ph.D. and Jing Feng, M.S.

SBRT prostate treatment is a hot topic these days, so it is an ideal time to learn more about the planning and delivery capabilities of our worldwide community. Even if your clinic does not treat SBRT prostate yet, we urge you to participate in the plan study. We are focusing on planning and delivery capabilities and not on the specific image guidance requirements for this type of treatment, and therefore we welcome submissions from all people, with any combination of TPS and delivery modality.

As always, your results will remain confidential and known only to you, with the exception of “high performers” who will be announced and who may be interviewed in order to learn and document their great techniques to share with the worldwide community.

Goals of this Study

The goals of this study are to: 1) quantify the relative capabilities of different planners, planning systems, and delivery modalities to create a highly conformal dose to a prostate target, 2) study the variability across all submitted plans, and 3) determine, then communicate, “best practices” to share with the community.

Who Should Participate

Everybody is encouraged to participate in this study, regardless of whether you are currently doing SBRT at your facility. Though SBRT for the prostate requires special real-time, intra-fractional image guidance, this study is only focusing on the capabilities of your planning system and delivery modality to create a highly conformal dose. Therefore, the image guidance and tracking abilities of your system are not taken into account for this study. As always, all results are fully secure and anonymous, with the exception of “high performers” who opt to be recognized by name and volunteer to be interviewed about their planning methods.

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The ProKnow System

A new system called ProKnow (which stands for “Profound Knowledge”) has been built to facilitate the plan studies from this day forth. This new system preserves the rich history of the “Plan Challenge” brought to us formerly by Radiation Oncology Resources (ROR), and of course still includes the powerful PlanIQ™ scoring engine from Sun Nuclear Corporation which has been used for every plan study since the year 2011.

However, it is the new value and interactivity that ProKnow adds that you will be most excited about. The most popular requests from past years have all been incorporated into the ProKnow cloud-based engine, including:

  • Real time plan scoring and visual and graphical feedback
  • Instantaneous report downloading
  • Ability to re-score and re-submit new plan revisions until you are satisfied
  • Interactive “Analytics” workspace to allow you to see your results for the whole plan and each individual metric vs. the anonymous population of your peers (note: analytics will be turned “on” after the plan study is closed and the presentations made at the AAMD and RSS meetings in June)
  • Portal for sharing of “best practices” by interviewing high performers who will share their TPS- and modality-specific techniques
  • Study continuation, meaning if you want to score a new plan later, or if you missed the deadline, you can still score your plan and explore the population results even after the study is closed.

The ProKnow technology is built by a consortium of experts passionate about quality, including:

Richard Sweat and .decimal., Sal Gerace Ph. D. and Thinknode, and Ben Nelms Ph. D. and Canis Lupus.

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You can sign up and participate in the 2016 AAMD/RSS Plan Study here.

An introductory video has been recorded that covers the purpose, history, and methods of the ProKnow Plan Study Program. The same video gives a brief demonstration of how to use the website and talks about the specifics of this year’s SBRT prostate case and how the plan scoring algorithm was built.

View the Video Now!


Participating is very easy, and includes real-time scoring and a very intuitive and informative website engine. The specific steps to participate if you are a new ProKnow user are as follows:

  1. Go to proknowsystems.com
  2. Sign up and create a user profile
  3. Wait for verification email to be sent, which should only take seconds
  4. Verify your profile by clicking the embedded link in the email
  5. Sign back in to the website and go to the “Plan Studies” module
  6. Read/download the instructions specific to the plan study
  7. Download the required dataset (this study’s data will be compressed in a single zip file that contains 429 CT images and one RT Structure Set)
  8. Unzip the data
  9. Transfer the DICOM images and RT Structure Set to your TPS (Note: each TPS has a slightly different way to do this)
  10. Create your plan and calculate your dose
  11. Using ProKnow, upload your plan and dose
  12. Generate your score, which will be displayed to you in real time on the website
  13. Continue to work to improve your plan if desired
  14. When finished, “Submit” your plan to ProKnow (if you wish to make changes later, you can un-submit and upload new files, but once the study is closed your submission is final)
  15. After this study’s results presentations have been given (at the AAMD meeting in Atlanta and at the RSS meeting in Orlando, both in mid-June), then all the anonymous population statistics will be available for you to find how your plan fared against a population of your peers. To do this, simply log back into ProKnow, go to this plan study, and use the tools on the “Analytics” tab to go through all of the metrics and see your result against a backdrop of the population of entries.

If you have any issues signing up or signing in to ProKnow, or in downloading or uploading data, please see the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) document to see if you can find your issue already discussed.

If you have any questions that are not addressed in the FAQs, then please contact ProKnow support at (321) 275-5171 during the hours of 9-5PM EST or email support@proknowsystems.com.

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