Effect of Surgical Mask on Setup Error in Head and Neck Radiotherapy

Technol Cancer Res Treat. Jan-Dec 2020;19:1533033820974021. doi: 10.1177/1533033820974021.


Purpose: With the widespread prevalence of Corona Virus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), cancer patients are suggested to wear a surgical mask during radiation treatment. In this study, cone beam CT (CBCT) was used to investigate the effect of surgical mask on setup errors in head and neck radiotherapy.

Methods: A total of 91 patients with head and neck tumors were selected. CBCT was performed to localize target volume after patient set up. The images obtained by CBCT before treatment were automatically registered with CT images and manually fine-tuned. The setup errors of patients in 6 directions of Vrt, Lng, Lat, Pitch, Roll and Rotation were recorded. The patients were divided into groups according to whether they wore the surgical mask, the type of immobilization mask used and the location of the isocenter. The setup errors of patients were calculated. A t-test was performed to detect whether it was statistically significant.

Results: In the 4 groups, the standard deviation in the directions of Lng and Pitch of the with surgical mask group were all higher than that in the without surgical mask group. In the head-neck-shoulder mask group, the mean in the Lng direction of the with surgical mask group was larger than that of the without surgical mask group. In the lateral isocenter group, the mean in the Lng and Pitch directions of the with surgical mask group were larger than that of the without surgical mask group. The t-test results showed that there was significant difference in the setup error between the 2 groups (p = 0.043 and p = 0.013, respectively) only in the Lng and Pitch directions of the head-neck-shoulder mask group. In addition, the setup error of 6 patients with immobilization open masks exhibited no distinguished difference from that of the patients with regular immobilization masks.

Conclusion: In the head and neck radiotherapy patients, the setup error was affected by wearing surgical mask. It is recommended that the immobilization open mask should be used when the patient cannot finish the whole treatment with a surgical mask.

Keywords: COVID-19; head and neck radiotherapy; radiation therapy; setup error; surgical mask.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19 / epidemiology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cone-Beam Computed Tomography / methods
  • Female
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Immobilization / instrumentation
  • Immobilization / methods
  • Immobilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Male
  • Masks* / adverse effects
  • Masks* / statistics & numerical data
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Radiation Oncology / methods
  • Radiation Oncology / standards
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiotherapy Setup Errors / statistics & numerical data*
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided / statistics & numerical data
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated / methods
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology
  • Shoulder
  • Young Adult