BACKGROUND: Adaptive proton therapy workflows rely on accurate imaging throughout the treatment course. Our centre currently utilizes weekly repeat CTs (rCTs) for treatment monitoring and plan adaptations. However, deep learning-based methods have recently shown to successfully correct CBCT images, which suffer from severe imaging artifacts, and generate high quality synthetic CT (sCT) images which enable CBCT-based proton dose calculations.
PURPOSE: To compare daily CBCT-based sCT images to planning CTs (pCT) and rCTs of head and neck (HN) cancer patients to investigate the dosimetric accuracy of CBCT-based sCTs in a scenario mimicking actual clinical practice.
METHODS: Data of 56 HN cancer patients, previously treated with proton therapy was used to generate 1.962 sCT images, using a previously developed and trained deep convolutional neural network. Clinical IMPT treatment plans were recalculated on the pCT, weekly rCTs and daily sCTs. The dosimetric accuracy of sCTs was compared to same day rCTs and the initial planning CT. As a reference, rCTs were also compared to pCTs. The dose difference between sCTs and rCTs/pCT was quantified by calculating the D 98 difference for target volumes and D mean difference for organs-at-risk. To investigate the clinical relevancy of possible dose differences, NTCP values were calculated for dysphagia and xerostomia.
RESULTS: For target volumes, only minor dose differences were found for sCT versus rCT and sCT versus pCT, with dose differences mostly within ±1.5%. Larger dose differences were observed in OARs, where a general shift towards positive differences was found, with the largest difference in the left parotid gland. Delta NTCP values for grade 2 dysphagia and xerostomia were within ±2.5% for 90% of the sCTs.
CONCLUSIONS: Target doses showed high similarity between rCTs and sCTs. Further investigations are required to identify the origin of the dose differences at OAR levels and its relevance in clinical decision making.