Integral dose conservation in radiotherapy.
Treatment planners frequently modify beam arrangements and use IMRT to improve target dose coverage while satisfying dose constraints on normal tissues. The authors herein analyze the limitations of these strategies and quantitatively assess the extent to which dose can be redistributed within the patient volume. Specifically, the authors hypothesize that (1) the normalized integral dose is constant across concentric shells of normal tissue surrounding the target (normalized to the average integral shell dose), (2) the normalized integral shell dose is constant across plans with different numbers and orientations of beams, and (3) the normalized integral shell dose is constant across plans when reducing the dose to a critical structure. Using the images of seven patients previously irradiated for cancer of brain or prostate cancer and one idealized scenario, competing three-dimensional conformal and IMRT plans were generated using different beam configurations. Within a given plan and for competing plans with a constant mean target dose, the normalized integral doses within concentric "shells" of surrounding normal tissue were quantitatively compared. Within each patient, the normalized integral dose to shells of normal tissue surrounding the target was relatively constant (1). Similarly, for each clinical scenario, the normalized integral dose for a given shell was also relatively constant regardless of the number and orientation of beams (2) or degree of sparing of a critical structure (3). 3D and IMRT planning tools can redistribute, rather than eliminate dose to the surrounding normal tissues (intuitively known by planners). More specifically, dose cannot be moved between shells surrounding the target but only within a shell. This implies that there are limitations in the extent to which a critical structure can be spared based on the location and geometry of the critical structure relative to the target.
Reese, AS; Das, SK; Curie, C; Marks, LB
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