Purpose: The intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment planning system generates tightly constricted isodose lines. It is very important to define the margins that are acceptable in the treatment of prostate cancer to maximize the dose escalation and normal tissue avoidance advantages offered by IMRT. It is necessary to take into account subclinical disease and the potential for extracapsular spread. Organ and patient motion as well as setup errors are variables that must be minimized and defined to avoid underdosing the tumor or overdosing the normal tissues. We have addressed these issues previously. The purpose of the study was twofold: to quantify the radial distance of extracapsular extension in the prostatectomy specimens, and to quantify differences between the pathologic prostate volume (PPV), CT-based gross tumor volume (GTV), and planning target volume (PTV).
Materials and methods: Two related studies were undertaken. A total of 712 patients underwent prostatectomy between August 1983 and September 1995. Pathologic assessment of the radial distance of extracapsular extension was performed. Shrinkage associated with fixation was accounted for with a linear shrinkage factor. Ten patients had preoperative staging studies including a CT scan of the pelvis. The GTV was outlined and volume determined from these CT scans. The PTV, defined as GTV with a 5-mm margin in all dimensions, was then calculated. The Peacock inverse planning system (NOMOS Corp., Sewickley, PA) was used. The PPV, GTV, and PTV were compared for differences and evaluated for correlation.
Results: Extracapsular extension (ECE) (i.e., prostatic capsular invasion level 3 [both focal and established]) was found in 299 of 712 patients (42.0%). Measurable disease extending radially outside the prostatic capsule (i.e., ECE level 3 established) was noted in 185 of 712 (26.0%). The median radial extension was 2.0 mm (range 0.50-12.00 mm) outside the prostatic capsule. As a group, 20 of 712 (2.8%) had extracapsular extension of more than 5 mm. In the volumetric comparison and correlation study of the GTV and PTV to the PPV, the average GTV was 2 times larger than the PPV. The average PTV was 4.1 times larger than the PPV.
Conclusions: This is the largest series in the literature quantitatively assessing prostatic capsular invasion (i.e., the radial extracapsular extension). It is the first report of a comparison of PPV to CT-planned GTV and PTV. Using patient and prostate immobilization, 5 mm of margin to the GTV in this study provided sufficient coverage of the tumor volume based on data gathered from 712 patients. In the absence of prostate immobilization, additional margins of differing amounts depending on the technique employed would have to be placed to account for target, patient, and setup uncertainties. The large mean difference between CT-based estimates of the tumor volume and target volume (GTV+PTV) and PPV added further evidence for adequacy of tumor coverage. Target immobilization, setup error, and coverage of subclinical disease must be addressed carefully before successful implementation of IMRT to maximize its ability to escalate dose and to spare normal tissue simultaneously and safely.