Clinical and practical considerations for the use of intensity-modulated radiotherapy and image guidance in neuro-oncology

Clin Oncol (R Coll Radiol). 2014 Jul;26(7):395-406. doi: 10.1016/j.clon.2014.04.024. Epub 2014 May 17.


Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and image-guided radiotherapy offer significant opportunities to improve outcomes for our patients, although they are not yet as widely used as they might be. IMRT allows better target coverage and lower organ at risk doses than conformal therapy. It also allows inhomogeneous dose plans to be developed, where these can provide benefit, either to dose escalate the tumour or reduce dose to adjacent or overlapping organs at risk. Image guidance adds precision and the possibility of careful reduction in planning target volume margins. The technologies can be valuable both for patients with highly malignant tumours, such as glioblastoma, and those with less malignant or benign tumours. In glioblastoma, temozolomide chemotherapy and surgical developments have improved survival, and developments in radiotherapy techniques should also be used to optimise outcome. Target volume delineation, including calculation of the planning target volume margin is critical. Clear definitions of the gross tumour and clinical target volumes are essential, following established guidelines. Normal tissue volume delineation is also essential for IMRT. The planning organ at risk volume has become a valuable tool to manipulate dose away from organs at risk to avoid toxicities. This is distinct from 'optimising volumes' used to drive the computer optimiser during planning. Hard data on central nervous system (CNS) normal tissue tolerance is surprisingly slight, reflecting the clinical imperative to avoid serious complications in neurological tissues. The effect of chemotherapy on radiotherapy tolerance in the CNS remains obscure, and more needs to be done to develop the knowledge base. IMRT provides better conformation of the high dose treatment to the shape of the target, and reduces the dose to normal tissue structures. Image guidance improves the accuracy of dose delivery, which is particularly important where steep dose gradients are present. These technologies should be regarded as the state-of-the-art for our CNS patients.


Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided / methods*
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods*