BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Recently, clinically validated multivariable normal tissue complication probability models (NTCP) for head and neck cancer (HNC) patients have become available. We test the feasibility of using multivariable NTCP-models directly in the optimiser for inverse treatment planning of radiotherapy to improve the dose distributions and corresponding NTCP-estimates in HNC patients.
MATERIAL AND METHODS: For 10 HNC cases, intensity-modulated radiotherapy plans were optimised either using objective functions based on the 'generalised equivalent uniform dose' (OFgEUD) or based on multivariable NTCP-models (OFNTCP). NTCP-models for patient-rated xerostomia, physician-rated RTOG grade II-IV dysphagia, and various patient-rated aspects of swallowing dysfunction were incorporated. The NTCP-models included dose-volume parameters as well as clinical factors contributing to a personalised optimisation process. Both optimisation techniques were compared by means of 'pseudo Pareto fronts' (target dose conformity vs. the sum of the NTCPs).
RESULTS: Both optimisation techniques resulted in clinically realistic treatment plans with only small differences. For nine patients the sum-NTCP was lower for the OFNTCP optimised plans (on average 5.7% (95%CI 1.7-9.9%, p<0.006)). Furthermore, the OFNTCP provided the advantages of fewer unknown optimisation parameters and an intrinsic mechanism of individualisation.
CONCLUSIONS: Treatment plan optimisation using multivariable NTCP-models directly in the OF is feasible as has been demonstrated for HNC radiotherapy.