Proton vs. photon radiotherapy for MR-guided dose escalation of intraprostatic lesions

Acta Oncol. 2021 Oct;60(10):1283-1290. doi: 10.1080/0284186X.2021.1947523. Epub 2021 Jul 20.


Background: Dose escalation has been associated with improved biochemical control for prostate cancer. Focusing the high dose on the MRI-defined intraprostatic lesions (IL) could spare the surrounding organs at risk and hence allow further escalation. We compare treatment efficacy between state-of-the-art focally-boosted proton and photon-based radiotherapy, and investigate possible predictive guidelines regarding individualized treatment prescriptions.

Material and methods: Ten prostate cancer patients with well-defined ILs were selected. Multiparametric MRI was used to delineate ILs, which were transferred to the planning CT via image registration. Pencil beam scanning proton therapy and volumetric modulated arc therapy treatment plans, were created for each patient. Each modality featured 6 plans: (1) moderately hypofractionated dose: 70 Gy to the prostate in 28 fractions, (2)-(6) plan 1 plus additional simultaneous-integrated-boost to ILs to 75.6, 81.2, 86.6, 98 and 112 Gy in 28 fractions. Equivalent dose to 2 Gy-per-fraction (EqD2) was used to calculate tumor control (TCP) and normal tissue complication probabilities (NTCP) for ILs and organs-at-risk.

Results: For both modalities, the maximum necessary dose to achieve TCP > 99% was 98 Gy for very high-risk ILs. For lower risk ILs lower doses were sufficient. NTCP was <25% and 35% for protons and photons at the maximum dose escalation, respectively. For the cases and beam characteristics considered, proton therapy was dosimetrically superior when IL was >4 cc or located <2.5 mm from the rectum.

Conclusion: This work demonstrated the potential role for proton therapy in the setting of prostate focal dose escalation. We propose that anatomical characteristic could be used as criteria to identify patients who would benefit from proton treatment.

Keywords: MRI; Proton therapy; focal boosting; intraprostatic lesions; prostate cancer.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Organs at Risk
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Proton Therapy*
  • Protons
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated*


  • Protons