Dr. Emily Heath

Assistant Professor, Medical Physics
Physics Department - Carleton University
2424 HP
(613) 520 - 2600 Ext. 4053
eheathatphysics [dot] carleton [dot] ca

Research summary

Robust treatment planning methods for radiation therapy

Advances in radiation therapy techniques allow for a very precise dose of radiation to be delivered to the tumour. However errors in the delivery process, patient motion and uncertainties in the biological properties of tumour cells reduce the efficacy of radiation therapy treatments. My research aims to develop new radiation therapy planning techniques which compensates for these uncertainties to ensure that the correct dose is delivered to the tumour. Applications include brachytherapy for prostate cancer, treatment of mobile lung tumours and accounting for the presence of hypoxia in head and neck tumours.

Modeling anatomical changes during radiation therapy

Respiratory motion affects radiation dose delivery to tumours in the thorax and abdomen. Accurate determination of the dose in these regions requires dose accumulation methods which model anatomical motion and deformation. Monte Carlo simulation methods are well suited to this problem. I am developing a 4D Monte Carlo simulation method which can calculate the dose distribution delivered to a breathing patient. We are investigating how to incorporate patient and treatment machine information in order reconstruct the dose that the patient actually received and verify that the treatment was correctly delivered.

More recently, my research group has been investigating how to model day-to-day anatomical variations during radiation therapy. A current application is modeling prostate swelling post-implant in permanent prostate brachytherapy to understand how this affects the dose delivered to the patient.

Recent publications:

S Gholampourkashi, M. Vujicic, J. Belec, J.E. Cygler and E. Heath. Experimental verification of 4D Monte Carlo simulations of dose delivery to a moving anatomy. Medical Physics, 2017

E Maynard, M Hilts, E Heath and A Jirasek. Evaluation of accuracy and precision in polymer gel dosimetry. Medical Physics, 2017

AM Nicolae, G Morton, H Chung, A Loblaw, S Jain, DM Mitchell, L Lu, J Helou, M Al-Hanaqta, E Heath and A Ravi. Evaluation of a machine-learning algorithm for treatment planning in prostate low-dose-rate brachytherapy. International Journal of Radiation Biology Oncology Physics, 2016

M. Ahanj, J.P. Bissonnette, E. Heath and C. McCann. Robustness assessment of a novel IMRT planning method for lung radiotherapy, Physica Medica 32(6) 2016.

N. McVicar, I.A. Popescu and E. Heath. Techniques for Adaptive Prostate Radiotherapy, Physica Medica 32(3) 2016.