Background and purpose: In the model-based approach, patients qualify for proton therapy when the reduction in risk of toxicity (ΔNTCP) obtained with IMPT relative to VMAT is larger than predefined thresholds as defined by the Dutch National Indication Protocol (NIPP). Proton arc therapy (PAT) is an emerging technology which has the potential to further decrease NTCPs compared to IMPT. The aim of this study was to investigate the potential impact of PAT on the number of oropharyngeal cancer (OPC) patients that qualify for proton therapy.
Materials and methods: A prospective cohort of 223 OPC patients subjected to the model-based selection procedure was investigated. 33 (15%) patients were considered unsuitable for proton treatment before plan comparison. When IMPT was compared to VMAT for the remaining 190 patients, 148 (66%) patients qualified for protons and 42 (19%) patients did not. For these 42 patients treated with VMAT, robust PAT plans were generated.
Results: PAT plans provided better or similar target coverage compared to IMPT plans. In the PAT plans, integral dose was significantly reduced by 18% relative to IMPT plans and by 54% relative to VMAT plans. PAT decreased the mean dose to numerous organs-at-risk (OARs), further reducing NTCPs. The ΔNTCP for PAT relative to VMAT passed the NIPP thresholds for 32 out of the 42 patients treated with VMAT, resulting in 180 patients (81%) of the complete cohort qualifying for protons.
Conclusion: PAT outperforms IMPT and VMAT, leading to a further reduction of NTCP-values and higher ΔNTCP-values, significantly increasing the percentage of OPC patients selected for proton therapy.