The current paradigm of radiation therapy has the treatment planned on a snapshot dataset of the patient's anatomy taken at the time of simulation. Throughout the course of treatment, this snapshot may vary from initial simulation.
Although there is the ability to image patients within the treatment room with technologies such as cone beam computed tomography, the current state of the art is largely limited to rigid-body matching and not accounting for any geometric deformations in the patient's anatomy.
A plan that was once attuned to the initial simulation can become suboptimal as the treatment progresses unless improved technologies are brought to bear. Adaptive radiation therapy (ART) is an evolving paradigm that seeks to address this deficiency by accounting for ongoing changes in the patient's anatomy and/or physiology during the course of treatment, affording an increasingly more accurate targeting of disease.
ART relies on several components working in concert, namely in-room treatment image guidance, deformable image registration, automatic recontouring, plan evaluation and reoptimization, dose calculation, and quality assurance.
Various studies have explored how a putative ART solution would improve the current state of the art of radiation therapy—some centers have even clinically implemented online adaptation. These explorations are reviewed here for a variety of sites.