Intensity modulated proton and photon therapy for early prostate cancer with or without transperineal injection of a polyethylen glycol spacer: a treatment planning comparison study

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012 Nov 1;84(3):e311-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2012.03.028.


Purpose: Rectal toxicity is a serious adverse effect in early-stage prostate cancer patients treated with curative radiation therapy (RT). Injecting a spacer between Denonvilliers' fascia increases the distance between the prostate and the anterior rectal wall and may thus decrease the rectal radiation-induced toxicity. We assessed the dosimetric impact of this spacer with advanced delivery RT techniques, including intensity modulated RT (IMRT), volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT), and intensity modulated proton beam RT (IMPT).

Methods and materials: Eight prostate cancer patients were simulated for RT with or without spacer. Plans were computed for IMRT, VMAT, and IMPT using the Eclipse treatment planning system using both computed tomography spacer+ and spacer- data sets. Prostate ± seminal vesicle planning target volume [PTV] and organs at risk (OARs) dose-volume histograms were calculated. The results were analyzed using dose and volume metrics for comparative planning.

Results: Regardless of the radiation technique, spacer injection decreased significantly the rectal dose in the 60- to 70-Gy range. Mean V(70 Gy) and V(60 Gy) with IMRT, VMAT, and IMPT planning were 5.3 ± 3.3%/13.9 ± 10.0%, 3.9 ± 3.2%/9.7 ± 5.7%, and 5.0 ± 3.5%/9.5 ± 4.7% after spacer injection. Before spacer administration, the corresponding values were 9.8 ± 5.4% (P=.012)/24.8 ± 7.8% (P=.012), 10.1 ± 3.0% (P=.002)/17.9 ± 3.9% (P=.003), and 9.7 ± 2.6% (P=.003)/14.7% ± 2.7% (P=.003). Importantly, spacer injection usually improved the PTV coverage for IMRT. With this technique, mean V(70.2 Gy) (P=.07) and V(74.1 Gy) (P=0.03) were 100 ± 0% to 99.8 ± 0.2% and 99.1 ± 1.2% to 95.8 ± 4.6% with and without Spacer, respectively. As a result of spacer injection, bladder doses were usually higher but not significantly so. Only IMPT managed to decrease the rectal dose after spacer injection for all dose levels, generally with no observed increase to the bladder dose.

Conclusions: Regardless of the radiation technique, a substantial decrease of rectal dose was observed after spacer injection for curative RT to the prostate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Absorbable Implants
  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Photons / therapeutic use*
  • Polyethylene Glycols / administration & dosage*
  • Prostate / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Proton Therapy*
  • Radiation Injuries / prevention & control*
  • Radiography
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods*
  • Rectum / diagnostic imaging
  • Rectum / radiation effects*
  • Urinary Bladder / diagnostic imaging
  • Urinary Bladder / radiation effects


  • Polyethylene Glycols