Introduction: Density changes occurring during fractionated radiotherapy in the pelvic region may degrade proton dose distributions. The aim of the study was to quantify the dosimetric impact of gas cavities and body outline variations.
Material and methods: Seven patients with locally advanced cervical cancer (LACC) were analyzed through a total of 175 daily cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) scans. Four-beams intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) dose plans were generated targeting the internal target volume (ITV) composed of: primary tumor, elective and pathological nodes. The planned dose was 45 Gy [Relative-Biological-Effectiveness-weighted (RBE)] in 25 fractions and simultaneously integrated boosts of pathologic lymph nodes were 55-57.5 Gy (RBE). In total, 475 modified CTs were generated to evaluate the effect of: 1/gas cavities, 2/outline variations and 3/the two combined. The anatomy of each fraction was simulated by propagating gas cavities contours and body outlines from each daily CBCT to the pCT. Hounsfield units corresponding to gas and fat were assigned to the propagated contours. D98 (least dose received by the hottest 98% of the volume) and D99.9 for targets and V43Gy(RBE) (volume receiving ≥43 Gy(RBE)) for organs at risk (OARs) were recalculated on each modified CT, and total dose was evaluated through dose volume histogram (DVH) addition across all fractions.
Results: Weight changes during radiotherapy were between -3.1% and 1.2%. Gas cavities and outline variations induced a median [range] dose degradation for ITV45 of 1.0% [0.5-3.5%] for D98 and 2.1% [0.8-6.4%] for D99.9. Outline variations had larger dosimetric impact than gas cavities. Worst nodal dose degradation was 2.0% for D98 and 2.3% for D99.9. The impact on bladder, bowel and rectum was limited with V43Gy(RBE) variations ≤3.5 cm3.
Conclusion: Bowel gas cavities and outline variations had minor impact on accumulated dose in targets and OAR of four-field IMPT in a LACC population of moderate weight changes.