Operations Research Methods for Optimization in Radiation Oncology

  • Matthias Ehrgott Department of Management Science, Lancaster University, Lancaster
  • Allen Holder Department of Mathematics, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Terre Haute, IN


Operations Research has a successful tradition of applying mathematical analysis to a wide range of applications, and problems in Medical Physics have been popular over the last couple of decades. The original application was in the optimal design of the uence map for a radiotherapy treatment, a problem that has continued to receive attention. However, Operations Research has been applied to other clinical problems like patient scheduling, vault design, and image alignment. The overriding theme of this article is to present how techniques in Operations Research apply to clinical problems, which we accomplish in three parts. First, we present the perspective from which an operations researcher addresses a clinical problem. Second, we succinctly introduce the underlying methods that are used to optimize a system, and third, we demonstrate how modern software facilitates problem design. Our discussion is supported by several publications to foster continued study. With numerous clinical, medical, and managerial decisions associated with a clinic, operations research has a promising future at improving how radiotherapy treatments are designed and delivered.
How to Cite
Ehrgott, M., & Holder, A. (2017). Operations Research Methods for Optimization in Radiation Oncology. Journal of Radiation Oncology Informatics, 6(1), 1–41. https://doi.org/10.5166/jroi-6-1-21