Significant improvement in normal tissue sparing and target coverage for head and neck cancer by means of helical tomotherapy

Claudio Fiorino, Italo Dell'Oca, Alessio Pierelli, Sara Broggi, Elena De Martin, Nadia Di Muzio, Barbara Longobardi, Ferruccio Fazio, Ricardo Calandrino
Radiotherapy and Oncology 2006, 78 (3): 276-82

PURPOSE: In order to explore the potential of helical Tomotherapy in the treatment of head and neck cancers (HNC), a planning study comparing our routinely delivered IMRT technique (dynamic MLC Varian 600CD Linac, inversely optimised by the Helios/Eclipse system) against two different Tomotherapy planning approaches was performed.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: In the first Tomotherapy plan (TOMO-a), we merely applied the same constraints used for the IMRT-Linac technique; in the second one (TOMO-b), we tried to stress the sparing of parotids and mandible while keeping PTV coverage and spinal cord Dmax similar to their values in the TOMO-a plan. Five patients with locally advanced oropharinx (n=3), hypopharinx (n=1) and larynx (n=1) cancer were considered. For each patient, CTV1 including neck nodes and the tumour was defined and was expanded with a margin of 0.5 cm (PTV1); then, CTV2 including high risk nodes and CTV3 including only T were defined and the corresponding PTV2/PTV3 were defined by a 0.5 cm expansion. IMRT and Tomotherapy planning were optimised to deliver 54 Gy in 30 fractions on PTV1 and 16.2 Gy in 9 fractions on PTV3; in the case a PTV2 was defined, 15 Gy were concomitantly delivered while delivering 16.2 Gy on PTV3. Separated plans for the two phases (Phase 1: first 30 fractions; Phase 2: last 9 fractions) were compared in terms of dose-volume histograms (DVH) and dose statistics on PTVs and OARs.

RESULTS: When considering Phase 1, Tomotherapy improved the homogeneity of the dose distribution within PTV1 while delivering the same prescribed dose (assessed to be the median dose to PTV): the fraction of PTV1 receiving more than 95% of the prescribed dose (V95%) increased from 90% (IMRT) to 96-97% for Tomotherapy plans. Dmax within PTV1 decreased from 60.3 Gy (IMRT) to 57.4 Gy (TOMO-a) and 58.7 Gy (TOMO-b). Spinal cord Dmax decreased from 31.6 Gy (IMRT) to 26.5 Gy (TOMO-a) and 24.6 Gy (TOMO-b). No attempts to further reduce spinal cord Dmax were done. Mean dose to the parotids decreased from 26.1 Gy (IMRT) to 25.1 Gy (TOMO-a) and 20.8 Gy (TOMO-b). Mandible was significantly better spared with Tomotherapy: mean dose decreased from 34.9 Gy (IMRT) to 34.0 Gy (TOMO-a) and 30.7 Gy (TOMO-b). When considering phase 2, the average gains (TOMO-b vs IMRT) were more modest and depended on the location of PTV2/PTV3.

CONCLUSIONS: Preliminary findings obtained in a sequential approach for HNC suggest that Tomotherapy has the potential to significantly improve the therapeutic ratio with respect to a conventional IMRT delivery method.

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