Background: We explore the use of a clinical orthovoltage X-ray treatment unit as a small-animal radiation therapy system in a tumoral model of cervical cancer.
Methods: Nude mice were subcutaneously inoculated with 5 x 106 HeLa cells in both lower limbs. When tumor volume approximated 200 mm3 treatment was initiated. Animals received four 2 mg/kg intraperitoneal cycles (1/week) of cisplatin and/or 6.25 mg/kg of gemcitabine, concomitant with radiotherapy. Tumors were exposed to 2.5 Gy/day nominal surface doses (20 days) of 150 kV X-rays. Lead collimators with circular apertures (0.5 to 1.5 cm diameter) were manufactured and mounted on the applicator cone to restrict the X-ray beam onto tumors. X-ray penetration and conformality were evaluated by measuring dose at the surface and behind the tumor lobe by using HS GafChromic film. Relative changes in tumor volume (RTV) and a clonogenic assay were used to evaluate the therapeutic response of the tumor, and relative weight loss was used to assess toxicity of the treatments.
Results: No measurable dose was delivered outside of the collimator apertures. The analysis suggests that dose inhomogeneities in the tumor reach up to +/- 11.5% around the mean tumor dose value, which was estimated as 2.2 Gy/day. Evaluation of the RTV showed a significant reduction of the tumor volume as consequence of the chemoradiotherapy treatment; results also show that toxicity was well tolerated by the animals.
Conclusion: Results and procedures described in the present work have shown the usefulness and convenience of the orthovoltage X-ray system for animal model radiotherapy protocols.