Evaluating Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy Relative to Passive Scattering Proton Therapy for Increased Vertebral Column Sparing in Craniospinal Irradiation in Growing Pediatric Patients

Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2017 May 1;98(1):37-46. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2017.01.226. Epub 2017 Feb 1.


Purpose: At present, proton craniospinal irradiation (CSI) for growing children is delivered to the whole vertebral body (WVB) to avoid asymmetric growth. We aimed to demonstrate the feasibility and potential clinical benefit of delivering vertebral body sparing (VBS) versus WVB CSI with passively scattered (PS) and intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) in growing children treated for medulloblastoma.

Methods and materials: Five plans were generated for medulloblastoma patients, who had been previously treated with CSI PS proton radiation therapy: (1) single posteroanterior (PA) PS field covering the WVB (PS-PA-WVB); (2) single PA PS field that included only the thecal sac in the target volume (PS-PA-VBS); (3) single PA IMPT field covering the WVB (IMPT-PA-WVB); (4) single PA IMPT field, target volume including thecal sac only (IMPT-PA-VBS); and (5) 2 posterior-oblique (-35°, +35°) IMPT fields, with the target volume including the thecal sac only (IMPT2F-VBS). For all cases, 23.4 Gy (relative biologic effectiveness [RBE]) was prescribed to 95% of the spinal canal. The dose, linear energy transfer, and variable-RBE-weighted dose distributions were calculated for all plans using the tool for particle simulation, version 2, Monte Carlo system.

Results: IMPT VBS techniques efficiently spared the anterior vertebral bodies (AVBs), even when accounting for potential higher variable RBE predicted by linear energy transfer distributions. Assuming an RBE of 1.1, the V10 Gy(RBE) decreased from 100% for the WVB techniques to 59.5% to 76.8% for the cervical, 29.9% to 34.6% for the thoracic, and 20.6% to 25.1% for the lumbar AVBs, and the V20 Gy(RBE) decreased from 99.0% to 17.8% to 20.0% for the cervical, 7.2% to 7.6% for the thoracic, and 4.0% to 4.6% for the lumbar AVBs when IMPT VBS techniques were applied. The corresponding percentages for the PS VBS technique were higher.

Conclusions: Advanced proton techniques can sufficiently reduce the dose to the vertebral body and allow for vertebral column growth for children with central nervous system tumors requiring CSI. This was true even when considering variable RBE values. A clinical trial is planned for VBS to the thoracic and lumbosacral spine in growing children.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Cerebellar Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Child
  • Craniospinal Irradiation / methods*
  • Esophagus / diagnostic imaging
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Growth Plate
  • Humans
  • Intestine, Small / diagnostic imaging
  • Kidney / diagnostic imaging
  • Linear Energy Transfer
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Medulloblastoma / radiotherapy*
  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Organ Sparing Treatments / methods*
  • Organs at Risk / diagnostic imaging
  • Proton Therapy / methods*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods*
  • Relative Biological Effectiveness
  • Scattering, Radiation*
  • Spine / diagnostic imaging
  • Spine / growth & development*
  • Thyroid Gland / diagnostic imaging