Pelvic target volume inter-fractional motion during radiotherapy for cervical cancer with daily iterative cone beam computed tomography

Radiat Oncol. 2024 Apr 15;19(1):48. doi: 10.1186/s13014-024-02438-1.


Background: Tumor regression and organ movements indicate that a large margin is used to ensure target volume coverage during radiotherapy. This study aimed to quantify inter-fractional movements of the uterus and cervix in patients with cervical cancer undergoing radiotherapy and to evaluate the clinical target volume (CTV) coverage.

Methods: This study analyzed 303 iterative cone beam computed tomography (iCBCT) scans from 15 cervical cancer patients undergoing external beam radiotherapy. CTVs of the uterus (CTV-U) and cervix (CTV-C) contours were delineated based on each iCBCT image. CTV-U encompassed the uterus, while CTV-C included the cervix, vagina, and adjacent parametrial regions. Compared with the planning CTV, the movement of CTV-U and CTV-C in the anterior-posterior, superior-inferior, and lateral directions between iCBCT scans was measured. Uniform expansions were applied to the planning CTV to assess target coverage.

Results: The motion (mean ± standard deviation) in the CTV-U position was 8.3 ± 4.1 mm in the left, 9.8 ± 4.4 mm in the right, 12.6 ± 4.0 mm in the anterior, 8.8 ± 5.1 mm in the posterior, 5.7 ± 5.4 mm in the superior, and 3.0 ± 3.2 mm in the inferior direction. The mean CTV-C displacement was 7.3 ± 3.2 mm in the left, 8.6 ± 3.8 mm in the right, 9.0 ± 6.1 mm in the anterior, 8.4 ± 3.6 mm in the posterior, 5.0 ± 5.0 mm in the superior, and 3.0 ± 2.5 mm in the inferior direction. Compared with the other tumor (T) stages, CTV-U and CTV-C motion in stage T1 was larger. A uniform CTV planning treatment volume margin of 15 mm failed to encompass the CTV-U and CTV-C in 11.1% and 2.2% of all fractions, respectively. The mean volume change of CTV-U and CTV-C were 150% and 51%, respectively, compared with the planning CTV.

Conclusions: Movements of the uterine corpus are larger than those of the cervix. The likelihood of missing the CTV is significantly increased due to inter-fractional motion when utilizing traditional planning margins. Early T stage may require larger margins. Personal radiotherapy margining is needed to improve treatment accuracy.

Keywords: Cervical cancer; Clinical target volume; Inter-fractional motion; Radiotherapy.

MeSH terms

  • Cone-Beam Computed Tomography / methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Motion
  • Pelvis / pathology
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Image-Guided* / methods
  • Radiotherapy, Intensity-Modulated* / methods
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms* / radiotherapy