Research Article| Volume 44, ISSUE 4, P309-314, December 2019

Effect of arc length on skin dose from hypofractionated volumetric modulated arc radiotherapy treatments of the lung and spine

Published:December 04, 2018DOI:


      Due to large doses per fraction, stereotactic ablative radiotherapy of lung or spine can lead to skin tissue toxicity, the amount of which depends on a variety of factors such as target location, beam geometry, and immobilization. The effect of arc length on spreading out entrance and exit doses and the corresponding predictions of skin reactions has not yet been studied for stereotactic body radiotherapy volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) treatments. 58 clinically relevant VMAT stereotactic body radiotherapy spine and lung plans were created for an anthropomorphic phantom utilizing a range of target locations, beam geometries and arc lengths. Skin dose was assessed by considering the National Cancer Institute skin reaction grades adjusted for 3 fraction treatments. While the skin volumes predicted to exhibit low grade reactions decreased with arc length, high grade reactions were found to increase at smaller arcs as well as at full arcs where a superposition of entrance and exit doses would occur. It is possible for skin dose to be effectively optimized by choice of arc length (within clinically relevant boundaries) and thus minimize the skin reaction. High skin doses are often attributed to effects arising from the distance between the planning target volume and patient surface but this study has demonstrated that VMAT arc length is of equal importance. Understanding this relationship will assist in minimizing skin reactions through modification of plan parameters and will provide clinicians more information for patient selection.


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