Research Article| Volume 45, ISSUE 1, P52-59, March 2020

An evaluation of adaptive planning by assessing the dosimetric impact of weight loss throughout the course of radiotherapy in bilateral treatment of head and neck cancer patients


      The purpose of this study was to investigate the dosimetric impact of weight loss in head and neck (H&N) patients and examine the effectiveness of adaptive planning. Data was collected from 22 H&N cancer patients who experienced weight loss during their course of radiotherapy. The robustness of Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) and Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy (VMAT) treatment plans were compared including the potential need for replanning. The dosimetric impact of weight loss was evaluated by calculating a verification plan for each patient on an assessment CT scan taken during the course of treatment. Using a regression analysis, significance was tested for the dosimetric change in target volumes and 10 specific organs at risk (OAR) using an anatomical separation difference in the H&N at corresponding levels. For both the IMRT and VMAT plans, a significant correlation was found for the dose to 5% of the high risk Planning Target Volume (PTV) (D5), dose to 95% of the intermediate risk PTV and Clinical Target Volume (CTV) (D95), and the percentage of the pharynx receiving 65 Gy. An independent t-test was also performed for each metric in the VMAT and IMRT plans showing the dose to 95% of the intermediate risk PTV as significant. No quantitative method for finding the threshold of anatomical separation difference requiring a replan was established. Based on the increase in dose to organs at risk and increased target coverage due to separation loss, it was concluded that adaptive radiotherapy may not always be necessary when alignment of bony anatomy and remaining soft tissue is within tolerance. Physician judgment and preference is needed in such situations.


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