High dose-rate (HDR) brachytherapy is a kind of radiotherapy used to treat, among others, prostate cancer. When applied to prostate cancer a radioactive source is moved through catheters implanted into the prostate. For each patient a treatment plan is constructed that decide for example catheter placement and dwell time distribution, that is where to stop the radioactive source and for how long.
Mathematical optimization methods has been used to find quality plans with respect to dwell time distribution, however few optimization approaches regarding catheter placement have been studied. In this article we present an integrated optimization model that optimize catheter placement and dwell time distribution simultaneously. Our results show that integrating the two decisions yields greatly improved plans, from 15% to 94% improvement.
Since the presented model is computationally demanding to solve we also present three heuristics: tabu search, variable neighbourhood search and genetic algorithm. Of these variable neighbourhood search is clearly the best, outperforming a state-of-the-art optimization software (CPLEX) and the two other heuristics.