Intrafraction motion of the prostate during external-beam radiation therapy: analysis of 427 patients with implanted fiducial markers

Alexis N T J Kotte, Pieter Hofman, Jan J W Lagendijk, Marco van Vulpen, Uulke A van der Heide
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2007 October 1, 69 (2): 419-25

PURPOSE: To analyze the intrafraction motion of the prostate during external-beam radiation therapy of patients with prostate cancer.

METHODS AND MATERIALS: Between August 2001-December 2005, 427 patients with Stage T3Nx/0Mx/0 prostate carcinoma received intensity-modulated radiation therapy treatment combined with position verification with fiducial gold markers. For a total of 11,426 treatment fractions (average, 27 per patient), portal images were taken of the first segment of all five beams. The irradiation time of the technique varied between 5-7 min. From these data, the location of gold markers could be established within every treatment beam under the assumption of minimal marker movement.

RESULTS: In 66% of treatment fractions, a motion outside a range of 2 mm was observed, with 28% outside a range of 3 mm. The intrafraction marker movements showed that motion directions were often reversed. However, the effect was small. Even with perfect online position-correction at the start of irradiation, intrafraction motion caused position uncertainty, but systematic errors (Sigma) were limited to <0.6 mm, and random errors (sigma) to <0.9 mm. This would result in a lower limit of 2 mm for margins, in the absence of any other uncertainties.

CONCLUSIONS: Intrafraction motion of the prostate occurs frequently during external-beam irradiation on a time scale of 5-7 min. Margins of 2 mm account for these intrafraction motions. However, larger margins are required in practice to accommodate other uncertainties in the treatment.

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