Background: To investigate the role of intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) compared to volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) for advanced supradiaphragmatic Hodgkin's lymphoma (HL) in young female patients by assessing dosimetric features and modelling the risk of treatment related complications and radiation-induced secondary malignancies.
Methods: A group of 20 cases (planned according to the involved-site approach) were retrospectively investigated in a comparative planning study. Intensity modulated proton plans (IMPT) were compared to VMAT RapidArc plans (RA). Estimates of toxicity were derived from normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) calculations with either the Lyman or the Poisson models for a number of endpoints. Estimates of the risk of secondary cancer induction were determined for lungs, breasts, esophagus and thyroid. A simple model-based selection strategy was considered as a feasibility proof for the individualized selection of patients suitable for proton therapy.
Results: IMPT and VMAT plans resulted equivalent in terms of target dose distributions, both were capable to ensure high coverage and homogeneity. In terms of conformality, IMPT resulted ~ 10% better than RA plans. Concerning organs at risk, IMPT data presented a systematic improvement (highly significant) over RA for all organs, particularly in the dose range up to 20Gy. This lead to a composite average reduction of NTCP of 2.90 ± 2.24 and a reduction of 0.26 ± 0.22 in the relative risk of cardiac failures. The excess absolute risk per 10,000 patients-years of secondary cancer induction was reduced, with IMPT, of 9.1 ± 3.2, 7.2 ± 3.7 for breast and lung compared to RA. The gain in EAR for thyroid and esophagus was lower than 1. Depending on the arbitrary thresholds applied, the selection rate for proton treatment would have ranged from 5 to 75%.
Conclusion: In relation to young female patients with advanced supradiaphragmatic HL, IMPT can in general offer improved dose-volume sparing of organs at risk leading to an anticipated lower risk of early or late treatment related toxicities. This would reflect also in significantly lower risk of secondary malignancies induction compared to advanced photon based techniques. Depending on the selection thresholds and with all the limits of a non-validated and very basic model, it can be anticipated that a significant fraction of patients might be suitable for proton treatments if all the risk factors would be accounted for.
Keywords: Intensity modulated proton therapy; Lymphoma cancer; NTCP; RapidArc; Seconday cancer risk estimate; VMAT.