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Radiotherapy: Uulke van der Heide


Uulke van der HeideGroup leader, Professor at Leiden UMC

About Uulke van der Heide


The research in our group focuses on the use of multi-parametric MRI and PET in radiotherapy. Modern radiation therapy techniques are exceptionally flexible in the deposition of radiation dose in a target volume. With the use of image guidance, complex distributions of dose can be delivered reliably. Where image guidance so far is based on cone-beam CT, we are now working to bring MR-guided radiotherapy to the clinic. The advantage of MRI guidance is that it offers excellent soft tissue contrast, as well as the capacity to visualize the tumor during irradiation. This unprecedented accuracy in dose delivery can be exploited by modulating the required dose in space, to match the variation in radiation sensitivity in the tumor. This approach is called dose painting.

For effective dose painting, functional imaging techniques are essential to identify regions in a tumor that require a higher dose. Several techniques are available in nuclear medicine and radiology. In PET, a range of tracers are available that reflect properties such as metabolism, hypoxia and proliferation. In MRI, diffusion-weighted MRI reflects the cell density of tissue and thus may indicate regions with a higher tumor load. Dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI reflects permeability of the microvasculature and blood flow, correlated to the oxygenation of the tumor. These properties have impact on its radiation sensitivity.

Projects are ongoing to improve the performance of quantitative multi-parametric MRI to facilitate a robust interpretation of the images and monitoring of treatment response. We develop methods to translate multi-parametric images of MRI and PET into maps reflecting the probability that tissue contains tumor and the aggressiveness/resistance to treatment. These maps are to be used to guide radiotherapy dose painting. These methods are also used in the analysis of clinical dose painting trials, such as the FLAME trial for focal dose escalation in prostate cancer.


Key publications View All Publications

  • FDG-PET and diffusion-weighted MRI in head-and-neck cancer patients: implications for dose painting

    Radiother Oncol. 2013;106(2):250-4.

    van Mourik AM, Sonke JJ, Vijlbrief T, Dewit L, Damen EM, Remeijer P, van der Heide UA.

    Link to Pubmed
  • Functional MRI for radiotherapy dose painting

    Magn Reson Imaging. 2012;30(9):1216-23.

    van der Heide UA, Houweling AC, Groenendaal G, Beets-Tan RG, Lambin P.

    Link to Pubmed

Recent publications View All Publications

  • Re-distribution of brachytherapy dose using a differential dose prescription adapted to risk of local failure in low-risk prostate cancer patients.

    Radiother Oncol. 2015 Jun;115(3):308-13

    Rylander S, Polders D, Steggerda MJ, Moonen LM, Tanderup K, van der Heide UA

    Link to Pubmed
  • Prostate tumor delineation using multiparametric magnetic resonance imaging: Inter-observer variability and pathology validation

    Radiother Oncol. 2015 May;115(2):186-90

    Steenbergen P, Haustermans K, Lerut E, Oyen R, De Wever L, Van den Bergh L, Kerkmeijer LG, Pameijer FA, Veldhuis WB, van der Voort van...

    Link to Pubmed


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    Diedie van Dinten

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    +31 (0) 20 512 1731

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