Automated clinical decision support system with deep learning dose prediction and NTCP models to evaluate treatment complications in patients with esophageal cancer

Radiother Oncol. 2022 Nov:176:101-107. doi: 10.1016/j.radonc.2022.08.031. Epub 2022 Sep 24.


Background and purpose: This study aims to investigate how accurate our deep learning (DL) dose prediction models for intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and pencil beam scanning (PBS) treatments, when chained with normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) models, are at identifying esophageal cancer patients who are at high risk of toxicity and should be switched to proton therapy (PT).

Materials and methods: Two U-Net were created, for photon (XT) and proton (PT) plans, respectively. To estimate the dose distribution for each patient, they were trained on a database of 40 uniformly planned patients using cross validation and a circulating test set. These models were combined with a NTCP model for postoperative pulmonary complications. The NTCP model used the mean lung dose, age, histology type, and body mass index as predicting variables. The treatment choice is then done by using a ΔNTCP threshold between XT and PT plans. Patients with ΔNTCP ≥ 10% were referred to PT.

Results: Our DL models succeed in predicting dose distributions with a mean error on the mean dose to the lungs (MLD) of 1.14 ± 0.93% for XT and 0.66 ± 0.48% for PT. The complete automated workflow (DL chained with NTCP) achieved 100% accuracy in patient referral. The average residual (ΔNTCP ground truth - ΔNTCP predicted) is 1.43 ± 1.49%.

Conclusion: This study evaluates our DL dose prediction models in a broader patient referral context and demonstrates their ability to support clinical decisions.

Keywords: Clinical decision tool; Deep learning; Esophageal cancer; NTCP model; Patient referral.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Support Systems, Clinical*
  • Deep Learning*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Humans
  • Probability
  • Proton Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated* / adverse effects