A systematic review of organ motion and image-guided strategies in external beam radiotherapy for cervical cancer

Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2014 Apr;26(4):185-96. doi: 10.1016/j.clon.2013.11.031. Epub 2014 Feb 22.


Advanced radiotherapy techniques, such as intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT), may significantly benefit cervical cancer patients, in terms of reducing late toxicity and potentiating dose escalation. Given the steep dose gradients around the planning target volume (PTV) with IMRT planning, internal movement of organs during treatment may cause geographical miss of the target and unnecessary organs at risk (OAR) inclusion into high dose regions. It is therefore important to consider the extent and patterns of organ motion and to investigate potential image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT) solutions before implementing IMRT for cervical cancer. A systematic literature search was carried out using Medline, Embase, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Cinahl and Pubmed. Database-appropriate search strategies were developed based upon terms for uterine neoplasms, IGRT, organ motion and target volume. In total, 448 studies were identified and screened to find 39 relevant studies, 12 of which were abstracts. These studies show that within the target volume for cervical cancer radiotherapy, uterine motion is greater than cervical. Uterine motion is predominantly influenced by bladder filling, cervical motion by rectal filling. Organ motion patterns are patient specific, with some having very little (5 mm) and others having much larger shifts (40 mm) of the target volume. Population-based clinical target volume (CTV)-PTV margins would be large (up to 4 cm around the uterus), resulting in unnecessary OAR inclusion within the PTV, reducing the benefits of IMRT. Potential solutions include anisotropic margins with increased margins in the anteroposterior and superoinferior directions, or greater PTV margins around the uterine fundus than the cervix. As pelvic organ motion seems to be patient specific, individualised PTV margins and adaptive IGRT strategies have also been recommended to ensure target volume coverage while increasing OAR sparing. Although these strategies are promising, they need significant validation before they can be adopted into clinical practice.

Keywords: Cervical cancer; IGRT; IMRT; external beam radiotherapy; image guidance; organ motion.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided / methods
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / radiotherapy*