Volumetric modulation arc radiotherapy with flattening filter-free beams compared with static gantry IMRT and 3D conformal radiotherapy for advanced esophageal cancer: a feasibility study

Giorgia Nicolini, Sarbani Ghosh-Laskar, Shyam Kishore Shrivastava, Sushovan Banerjee, Suresh Chaudhary, Jai Prakash Agarwal, Anusheel Munshi, Alessandro Clivio, Antonella Fogliata, Pietro Mancosu, Eugenio Vanetti, Luca Cozzi
International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics 2012 October 1, 84 (2): 553-60

PURPOSE: A feasibility study was performed to evaluate RapidArc (RA), and the potential benefit of flattening filter-free beams, on advanced esophageal cancer against intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT).

METHODS AND MATERIALS: The plans for 3D-CRT and IMRT with three to seven and five to seven fixed beams were compared against double-modulated arcs with avoidance sectors to spare the lungs for 10 patients. All plans were optimized for 6-MV photon beams. The RA plans were studied for conventional and flattening filter-free (FFF) beams. The objectives for the planning target volume were the volume receiving ≥ 95% or at most 107% of the prescribed dose of <1% with a dose prescription of 59.4 Gy. For the organs at risk, the lung volume (minus the planning target volume) receiving ≥ 5 Gy was <60%, that receiving 20 Gy was <20%-30%, and the mean lung dose was <15.0 Gy. The heart volume receiving 45 Gy was <20%, volume receiving 30 Gy was <50%. The spinal dose received by 1% was <45 Gy. The technical delivery parameters for RA were assessed to compare the normal and FFF beam characteristics.

RESULTS: RA and IMRT provided equivalent coverage and homogeneity, slightly superior to 3D-CRT. The conformity index was 1.2 ± 0.1 for RA and IMRT and 1.5 ± 0.2 for 3D-CRT. The mean lung dose was 12.2 ± 4.5 for IMRT, 11.3 ± 4.6 for RA, and 10.8 ± 4.4 for RA with FFF beams, 18.2 ± 8.5 for 3D-CRT. The percentage of volume receiving ≥ 20 Gy ranged from 23.6% ± 9.1% to 21.1% ± 9.7% for IMRT and RA (FFF beams) and 39.2% ± 17.0% for 3D-CRT. The heart and spine objectives were met by all techniques. The monitor units for IMRT and RA were 457 ± 139, 322 ± 20, and 387 ± 40, respectively. RA with FFF beams showed, compared with RA with normal beams, a ∼20% increase in monitor units per Gray, a 90% increase in the average dose rate, and 20% reduction in beam on time (owing to different gantry speeds).

CONCLUSION: RA demonstrated, compared with conventional IMRT, a similar target coverage and some better dose sparing to the organs at risk; the advantage against conventional 3D-CRT was more evident. RA with FFF beams resulted in minor improvements in plan quality but with the potential for additional useful reduction in the treatment time.

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