Intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) versus intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for the treatment of head and neck cancer: A dosimetric comparison

Published:February 26, 2021DOI:


      It is the goal of this study to compare the dosimetric advantages of IMPT when compared to IMRT. From January 2019 to August 2020, 25 patients were treated with intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) at our institution for either recurrent, metastatic, benign, or primary tumors in the head and neck region. Twenty-one patients met criteria for dosimetric analysis. Histology of disease included squamous cell carcinoma, acinic cell carcinoma, sarcomatoid sinonasal carcinoma, paraganglioma, adenoid cystic carcinoma, salivary high grade carcinoma, and papillary thyroid carcinoma. For IMRT planning, gross tumor volume (GTV) and clinical target volume (CTV) were contoured with the expansion of 3-5 mm to create the planning target volume (PTV) and dose was prescribed to the PTV. For the IMPT planning, dose was prescribed to CTV and robust optimization was utilized which accounted for a 5 mm setup and range uncertainty. The minimum, mean and maximum target doses for IMRT and IMPT plans as well as mean and maximum normal tissue doses are reported for the 21 patients meeting criteria. Mean doses for IMRT and IMPT were 6278.2 cGy and 6449.8 cGyRBE respectively with p-value of 0.0001. Maximum doses for IMRT and IMPT were 6579.5 cGy and 6772.1 cGyRBE respectively with p-value of 0.0014. Minimum doses for IMRT and IMPT were 5440.6 cGy and 5617.9 cGyRBE respectively with p-value of 0.3576. IMPT had an overall advantage in OAR doses in the brain stem, spinal cord, optic structures, cochlea, larynx, contralateral parotid, and oral cavity with only a few exceptions. Our study thus demonstrates a dosimetric advantage for IMPT in treating head and neck tumors in mean and max dose delivered as well as dose to OARs. Given that our patient cohort were mainly unilateral head and neck cases, our study supports the treatment of this specific subset of patients regardless of histology with IMPT. This may aid in appropriate patient selection for IMPT treatment. Further studies will need to determine if this dosimetric advantage translates to a therapeutic advantage for patients.


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