Background: Proton therapy (PT) may have a normal tissue sparing potential when co-irradiating pelvic lymph nodes in patients with locally advanced prostate cancer, but may also be more sensitive towards organ motion in the pelvis. Building upon a previous study identifying motion-robust proton beam angles for pelvic irradiation, we aimed to evaluate the influence of organ motion for PT using biological models, and to compare this with contemporary photon-based RT.
Material and methods: Eight locally advanced prostate cancer patients with a planning CT (pCT) and 8-9 repeated CT scans (rCTs) were included. Two PT plans were created, one using two lateral opposed beams at gantry angles of 90°/270° and the other using two lateral oblique beams at 35°/325°; these were compared with volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) plans. All plans were optimised on the pCT and subsequently re-calculated on each rCT (following rigid alignment on the prostate). Dose distributions in organs at risk (OARs) were evaluated using mean dose, generalized equivalent uniform doses (gEUDs) and normal tissue complication probabilities (NTCPs), while mean dose and the volume receiving 98% of the dose (V98%) were used for the targets.
Results: PT significantly reduced the mean dose to the OARs and a correlation was seen in the pCTs between the prostate PTV overlapping the relevant OAR and OAR NTCPs, as was also the case for the VMAT plans. The best prostate target coverage across the rCTs for the IMPT plans were seen with two lateral opposed beams, although a poor coverage of the lymph node target was apparent based on V98% compared to the VMAT plans.
Conclusions: PT reduced the mean dose to normal tissues in the irradiation of pelvic lymph nodes and a strong association between the volume overlap and NTCPs in the pCTs were found.