Purpose: This study aimed to develop robust normal-tissue complication probability (NTCP) models for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma treated with radiation therapy (RT) using Child-Pugh (CP) score and albumin-bilirubin (ALBI) grade increase as endpoints for hepatic toxicity.
Methods and materials: Data from 108 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma treated with RT between 2008 and 2017 were evaluated, of which 47 patients (44%) were treated with proton RT. Of these patients, 29 received stereotactic body RT and 79 moderately hypofractionated RT to median physical tumor doses of 43 Gy in 5 fractions and 59 Gy in 15 fractions, respectively. A generalized Lyman-Kutcher-Berman (LKB) model was used to model the NTCP using 2 clinical endpoints, both evaluated at 3 months after RT: CP score increase of ≥2 and ALBI grade increase of ≥1 from the pre-RT baseline. Confidence intervals on LKB fit parameters were determined using bootstrap resampling.
Results: Compared with previous NTCP models, this study found a stronger correlation between normal liver volume receiving low doses of radiation (5-10 Gy) and a CP score or ALBI grade increase. A CP score increase exhibited a stronger correlation to normal liver volumes irradiated than an ALBI grade increase. LKB models for CP increase found values for the volume-effect parameter of a = 0.06 for all patients, and a = 0.02/0.09 when fit to photon/proton patients separately. Subset analyses for patients with superior initial liver functions showed consistent dose-volume effects (a = 0.1) and consistent dose-response relationships.
Conclusions: This study presents an update of liver NTCP models in the era of modern RT techniques using relevant endpoints of hepatic toxicity, CP score and ALBI grade increase. The results show a stronger influence of low-dose bath on hepatic toxicity than those found in previous studies, indicating that RT techniques that minimize the low-dose bath may be beneficial for patients.
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