Preparing for the 2018 Varian Eclipse Plan Challenge

Categories Planning, UncategorizedPosted on


The big day of the 2018 Eclipse Plan Challenge is almost here. This article will help you prepare in advance, so when the event begins, you will be warmed up, confident, and ready to go!

Remember, this is a timed event in which a large contingent of North American treatment planners will be competing simultaneously within a four-hour window. The details are below.

  • Date: Friday, June 29th
    Time: 1:00 to 5:00 PM EDT (Noon to 4 PM CDT, 10 AM to 2 PM PDT, etc.)
    Results: Though we will have all results in real-time, the announcement of winners will be kept secret until first revealed at the 2018 AAPM meeting in Nashville, TN. At that time, ProKnow’s interactive Population Results module will be activated for all to peruse and study.

Register for the Event

This event is open to all physicists and dosimetrists currently working in a clinic or doing locums in North America. Students are also encouraged to apply. (Note: Employees of any vendor, including Varian, are not allowed to participate.) For more details about the Varian-sponsored prizes and follow-up events, please see the details posted in the “Varian Plan Studies” module on ProKnow after you successfully register.

Click here if you meet the criteria for participation summarized above and have not yet registered.

After you register, you will receive an auto-generated confirmation email from ProKnow once a Varian administrator has reviewed and accepted your registration (usually within 24 hours). If you have registered already and want to be sure you were accepted, sign in to ProKnow, and in the Select Organization drop-down menu, verify that you see “Varian Plan Studies” as an option. If so, then you’re successfully registered and ready to go!

New to ProKnow?

ProKnow has an extensive and fully searchable knowledge center. After you sign in, just click the Support Center link on the top menu. You can enter search terms if you have a specific question or topic in mind, or you can browse the support articles by category.

Below are a couple links that are a good place to start for people participating in their first ProKnow Plan Study:

Video Tutorial: Participating in a Plan Study

Watch the short video below to learn how to (1) find the plan study, (2) read study-specific details and instructions, (3) download the necessary patient data, (4) upload and score your plan trials, (5) submit your final plan, (6) study the population results, and (7) learn from high-performing peer educators.

Body Site, Prescription, and Plan Scoring Algorithm

Varian has decided to keep the details of the body site, the prescription, and the specifics of the plan scoring algorithm (metrics assessed, per-metric priorities and scoring functions, etc.) a secret. Exciting!

All of these details will be disclosed and data and modules made available at the event start time. If you sign on early, just select “Varian Plan Studies” in the Select Organization drop-down menu, select Plan Studies in the top/main menu, and when the time comes, just refresh your browser; you will see the study appear on your list.

Though we will not be publishing the plan quality algorithm in advance like we normally do, here are some interesting details and background info on how this particular plan scoring system was created.

  • A list of almost 30 specific plan metrics have been selected for study based on input by an expert planning team of physicians and physicists. Most metrics will have priorities and scoring functions (i.e., objectives), while others (e.g., Integral Dose, estimated beam-on time, etc.) will be extracted only for future research considerations and not scored.
  • All metrics will be automatically extracted and scored using the cloud-based ProKnow system, so for each plan trial, you will see a comprehensive scorecard of your metric results and performance achievements. You will keep trying to improve your score during the allotted time, and you will submit your preferred candidate before the deadline.
  • You may not realize this, but scored plan studies like this began back in 2011, with the initial study leading to this seminal publication. As a result, we have accrued powerful datasets for dozens of different body sites and dose prescriptions. For this particular study, we will resurrect a prior dataset from years past, with one important twist: We will use statistical process control methods to generate new objectives based on what was observed/achieved over a population of Eclipse plans! To push you to your limits of treatment-planning ability, target scoring will remain largely the same, but all organ-at-risk (OAR) objectives will be more stringent, based on what was proven to be achievable with Eclipse. You will see that each OAR metric will have performance bins and scoring functions based on percentile rank from the historical study. The minimal requirement for each OAR metric will be set at the 25th percentile. It will earn 25% of the points for that metric (anything lower will receive zero points). If you reach the 50th percentile for a metric, you’ll receive 50% of the allotted points, and this will continue up to a max possible/ideal metric equalling the best-achieved value in the prior study. Fun, huh?
  • As a result, this algorithm is very, very challenging! For those of you who have participated in other ProKnow plan studies, don’t be discouraged by what may seem like a lower-than usual score. Do the best you can, and then wait until the end of July when Varian gives the “OK” to release the population statistics, after which you can interactively see how you performed vs. the anonymous population of other participants.

Other Specific Details and Rules

Listed below are a few additional rules/instructions specific to this 2018 Varian Eclipse Plan Challenge.

Allowed Treatment Modalities. All submitted plans must be created with the Eclipse treatment planning system (TPS). For this particular event, the winning plans will be selected from the VMAT and IMRT submissions. Proton plans may be submitted and will be scored for bragging rights, but they will not be eligible for prizes, as we cannot yet integrate plan robustness considerations.

Dose Algorithm and Grid. As always, use the best commissioned dose algorithm available, preferably the one you use clinically. The dose grid must cover all critical target and OAR volumes. The dose grid resolution must be ≤ 3 mm in each dimension.

Max Number of Beams and Couch Angles. If your plan is VMAT, you will be allowed up to four (4) beams. If IMRT, you will be allowed up to nine (9) beams. Proton plans, though not eligible for prizes, are allowed up to five beams. Multiple couch angles are accepted, within reason. As with any ProKnow plan study, any submitted plan must be one that you would submit for treatment in real life.

Delivery Efficiency. Do not generate plans that are impractical or overly complex. In fact, for this study, total treatment monitor units (MU) will be assessed and a small penalty levied in certain ranges. The ranges were determined, like the OAR metric objectives, based on retrospective analysis of a population of similar Eclipse plans for the same prescription.