Online image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy for prostate cancer: How much improvement can we expect? A theoretical assessment of clinical benefits and potential dose escalation by improving precision and accuracy of radiation delivery

Michel Ghilezan, Di Yan, Jian Liang, David Jaffray, John Wong, Alvaro Martinez
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2004 December 1, 60 (5): 1602-10

PURPOSE: To quantify the theoretical benefit, in terms of improvement in precision and accuracy of treatment delivery and in dose increase, of using online image-guided intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IG-IMRT) performed with onboard cone-beam computed tomography (CT), in an ideal setting of no intrafraction motion/deformation, in the treatment of prostate cancer.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Twenty-two prostate cancer patients treated with conventional radiotherapy underwent multiple serial CT scans (median 18 scans per patient) during their treatment. We assumed that these data sets were equivalent to image sets obtainable by an onboard cone-beam CT. Each patient treatment was simulated with conventional IMRT and online IG-IMRT separately. The conventional IMRT plan was generated on the basis of pretreatment CT, with a clinical target volume to planning target volume (CTV-to-PTV) margin of 1 cm, and the online IG-IMRT plan was created before each treatment fraction on the basis of the CT scan of the day, without CTV-to-PTV margin. The inverse planning process was similar for both conventional IMRT and online IG-IMRT. Treatment dose for each organ of interest was quantified, including patient daily setup error and internal organ motion/deformation. We used generalized equivalent uniform dose (EUD) to compare the two approaches. The generalized EUD (percentage) of each organ of interest was scaled relative to the prescription dose at treatment isocenter for evaluation and comparison. On the basis of bladder wall and rectal wall EUD, a dose-escalation coefficient was calculated, representing the potential increment of the treatment dose achievable with online IG-IMRT as compared with conventional IMRT.

RESULTS: With respect to radiosensitive tumor, the average EUD for the target (prostate plus seminal vesicles) was 96.8% for conventional IMRT and 98.9% for online IG-IMRT, with standard deviations (SDs) of 5.6% and 0.7%, respectively (p < 0.0001). The average EUDs of bladder wall and rectal wall for conventional IMRT vs. online IG-IMRT were 70.1% vs. 47.3%, and 79.4% vs. 72.2%, respectively. On average, a target dose increase of 13% (SD = 9.7%) can be achieved with online IG-IMRT based on rectal wall EUDs and 53.3% (SD = 15.3%) based on bladder wall EUDs. However, the variation (SD = 9.7%) is fairly large among patients; 27% of patients had only minimal benefit (<5% of dose increment) from online IG-IMRT, and 32% had significant benefit (>15%-41% of dose increment).

CONCLUSIONS: The ideal maximum dose increment achievable with online IG-IMRT is, on average, 13% with respect to the dose-limiting organ of rectum. However, there is a large interpatient variation, ranging <5%-41%. The results can be applied to calibrate other practical online image-guided techniques for prostate cancer radiotherapy, when intratreatment organ motion/deformation and machine delivery accuracy are considered.

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