Comparative dosimetry of three-phase adaptive and non-adaptive dose-painting IMRT for head-and-neck cancer

Radiother Oncol. 2014 Jun;111(3):348-53. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2014.02.017. Epub 2014 Apr 17.


Purpose: The anatomical changes, which occur during the radiotherapy treatment for head-and-neck cancer, may compromise the effectiveness of the treatment. This study compares dosimetrical effects of adaptive (ART) and non-adaptive (RT) dose-painted radiotherapy.

Materials and methods: For 10 patients, three treatment phases were preceded by a planning PET/CT scan. In ART, phases II and III were planned using PET/CT2 and PET/CT3, respectively. In RT, phases II and III were planned on PET/CT1 and recalculated on PET/CT2 and PET/CT3. Deformable image co-registration was used to sum the dose distributions and to propagate regions-of-interest (ROIs) drawn on PET/CT1 to PET/CT2, PET/CT3 and a last-treatment-day CT-scan.

Results: Re-adjusted dose-painting ART provided higher minimum and lower maximum doses in target ROIs in comparison to RT. On average, ART reduced the parotids' median dose and swallowing structures mean dose by 4.6-7.1% (p>0.05) and 3% (p=0.06), respectively. Dose differences for targets were from -1.6% to 6.6% and for organs-at-risk from -7.1% to 7.1%. Analysis of individual patient data showed large improvements of ROI dose/volume metrics by ART, reaching a 24.4% minimum-dose increase in the elective neck planning target volume and 21.1% median-dose decrease in swallowing structures.

Conclusion: Compared to RT, ART readjusts dose-painting, increases minimum and decreases maximum doses in target volumes and improves dose/volume metrics of organs-at-risk. The results favored the adaptive strategy, but also revealed considerable heterogeneity in patient-specific benefit. Reporting population-average effects underestimates the patient-specific benefits of ART.

Keywords: Adaptive radiotherapy; Deformable image registration; Dose summation; Dose-painting; Head-and-neck cancer; IMRT.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / pathology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Multimodal Imaging / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / methods


  • Radiopharmaceuticals
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18