A model for predicting the dose to the parotid glands based on their relative overlapping with planning target volumes during helical radiotherapy

J Appl Clin Med Phys. 2018 Mar;19(2):48-53. doi: 10.1002/acm2.12203. Epub 2017 Nov 6.


The sparing of the parotid glands in the treatment of head and neck cancers is of clinical relevance as high doses to the salivary glands may result in xerostomia. Xerostomia is a major cause of decreased quality of life for head and neck patients. This paper explores the relationship between the overlap of the target volumes and their expansions with the parotid glands for helical delivery plans and their ability to be spared. Various overlapping volumes were examined, and an overlap with a high statistical relevance was found. A model that predicts exceeding tolerance parotid mean dose based on its fractional overlapping volume with PTVs was developed. A fractional overlapping volume of 0.083 between the parotid gland and the high dose PTV plus 5 mm expansion - was determined to be the threshold value to predict parotid Dmean > 26 Gy for parotids that overlap with the high dose PTV plus 5 mm expansion. If the parotid gland only overlaps with the intermediate dose target (and/or low dose target) and the overlapping volume of the parotid gland and the intermediate dose target is less than 25%, the parotid mean dose is likely less than 26 Gy. If the parotid overlaps with the low dose target only then the mean dose to the parotid is likely to be less than 26 Gy. This finding will prove as a very useful guide for the physicians and planners involved in the planning process to know prior whether the parotid glands will be able to be spared with the current set of target volumes or if revisions are necessary. This work will serve as a helpful guide in the planning process of head and neck target cases.

Keywords: mean parotid dose; parotid sparing; prediction model.

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Squamous Cell / radiotherapy*
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Organ Sparing Treatments / standards*
  • Organs at Risk / radiation effects*
  • Parotid Gland / radiation effects*
  • Prognosis
  • Quality of Life
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Conformal / adverse effects*
  • Xerostomia / prevention & control*