Purpose: Accurate tumor tracking remains a challenge in current radiation therapy. Many strategies including image guided radiation therapy alleviate the problem to certain extents. The authors propose a new modality called emission guided radiation therapy (EGRT) to accurately and directly track the tumor based on its biological signature. This work is to demonstrate the feasibility of EGRT under two clinical scenarios using a 4D digital patient model.
Methods: EGRT uses lines of response (LOR's) from positron emission events to direct beamlets of therapeutic radiation through the emission sites inside a tumor. This is accomplished by a radiation delivery system consisting of a Linac and positron emission tomography (PET) detectors on a fast rotating closed-ring gantry. During the treatment of radiotracer-administrated cancer patients, PET detectors collect LOR's from tumor uptake sites and the Linac responds in nearly real-time with beamlets of radiation along the same LOR paths. Moving tumors are therefore treated with a high targeting accuracy. Based on the EGRT concept, the authors design a treatment method with additional modulation algorithms including attenuation correction and an integrated boost scheme. Performance is evaluated using simulations of a lung tumor case with 3D motion and a prostate tumor case with setup errors. The emission process is simulated by Geant4 Application for Tomographic Emission package (GATE) and Linac dose delivery is simulated using a voxel-based Monte Carlo algorithm (VMC++).
Results: In the lung case with attenuation correction, compared to a conventional helical treatment, EGRT achieves a 41% relative increase in dose to 95% of the gross tumor volume (GTV) and a 55% increase to 50% of the GTV. All dose distributions are normalized for the same dose to the lung. In the prostate case with the integrated boost and no setup error, EGRT yields a 19% and 55% relative dose increase to 95% and 50% of the GTV, respectively, when all methods are normalized for the same dose to the rectum. In the prostate case with integrated boost where setup error is present, EGRT contributes a 21% and 52% relative dose increase to 95% and 50% of the GTV, respectively.
Conclusions: As a new radiation therapy modality with inherent tumor tracking, EGRT has the potential to substantially improve targeting in radiation therapy in the presence of intrafractional and interfractional motion.