Volumetric modulated arc therapy vs. c-IMRT for the treatment of upper thoracic esophageal cancer

Wu-Zhe Zhang, Tian-Tian Zhai, Jia-Yang Lu, Jian-Zhou Chen, Zhi-Jian Chen, De-Rui Li, Chuang-Zhen Chen
PloS One 2015, 10 (3): e0121385

OBJECTIVE: To compare plans using volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) with conventional sliding window intensity-modulated radiation therapy (c-IMRT) to treat upper thoracic esophageal cancer (EC).

METHODS: CT datasets of 11 patients with upper thoracic EC were identified. Four plans were generated for each patient: c-IMRT with 5 fields (5F) and VMAT with a single arc (1A), two arcs (2A), or three arcs (3A). The prescribed doses were 64 Gy/32 F for the primary tumor (PTV64). The dose-volume histogram data, the number of monitoring units (MUs) and the treatment time (TT) for the different plans were compared.

RESULTS: All of the plans generated similar dose distributions for PTVs and organs at risk (OARs), except that the 2A- and 3A-VMAT plans yielded a significantly higher conformity index (CI) than the c-IMRT plan. The CI of the PTV64 was improved by increasing the number of arcs in the VMAT plans. The maximum spinal cord dose and the planning risk volume of the spinal cord dose for the two techniques were similar. The 2A- and 3A-VMAT plans yielded lower mean lung doses and heart V50 values than the c-IMRT. The V20 and V30 for the lungs in all of the VMAT plans were lower than those in the c-IMRT plan, at the expense of increasing V5, V10 and V13. The VMAT plan resulted in significant reductions in MUs and TT.

CONCLUSION: The 2A-VMAT plan appeared to spare the lungs from moderate-dose irradiation most effectively of all plans, at the expense of increasing the low-dose irradiation volume, and also significantly reduced the number of required MUs and the TT. The CI of the PTVs and the OARs was improved by increasing the arc-number from 1 to 2; however, no significant improvement was observed using the 3A-VMAT, except for an increase in the TT.

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