Head and neck IMPT probabilistic dose accumulation: Feasibility of a 2 mm setup uncertainty setting

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OBJECTIVE: To establish optimal robust optimization uncertainty settings for clinical head and neck cancer (HNC) patients undergoing 3D image-guided pencil beam scanning (PBS) proton therapy.

METHODS: We analyzed ten consecutive HNC patients treated with 70 and 54.25 GyRBE to the primary and prophylactic clinical target volumes (CTV) respectively using intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT). Clinical plans were generated using robust optimization with 5 mm/3% setup/range uncertainties (RayStation v6.1). Additional plans were created for 4, 3, 2 and 1 mm setup and 3% range uncertainty and for 3 mm setup and 3%, 2% and 1% range uncertainty. Systematic and random error distributions were determined for setup and range uncertainties based on our quality assurance program. From these, 25 treatment scenarios were sampled for each plan, each consisting of a systematic setup and range error and daily random setup errors. Fraction doses were calculated on the weekly verification CT closest to the date of treatment as this was considered representative of the daily patient anatomy.

RESULTS: Plans with a 2 mm/3% setup/range uncertainty setting adequately covered the primary and prophylactic CTV (V95≥ 99% in 98.8% and 90.8% of the treatment scenarios respectively). The average organ-at-risk dose decreased with 1.1 GyRBE/mm setup uncertainty reduction and 0.5 GyRBE/1% range uncertainty reduction. Normal tissue complication probabilities decreased by 2.0%/mm setup uncertainty reduction and by 0.9%/1% range uncertainty reduction.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study indicate that margin reduction below 3 mm/3% is possible but requires a larger cohort to substantiate clinical introduction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-52
Number of pages8
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Early online date5-Sep-2020
Publication statusPublished - Jan-2021


  • Head and neck cancer
  • Proton therapy
  • IMPT
  • Robust optimization

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