Dose Evaluation in 2-Phase Method for Advanced Esophageal Cancer by Hybrid Irradiation Techniques

Int J Part Ther. 2024 Apr 25:11:100010. doi: 10.1016/j.ijpt.2024.100010. eCollection 2024 Mar.


Purpose: In concurrent chemoradiotherapy for advanced esophageal cancer, a 2-phase method consisting of initial irradiation of a wide elective nodal region and boost irradiation of the primary lesion is commonly employed. Although dose escalation to the primary lesion may be required to achieve higher local control rates, the radiation dose to critical organs must not exceed dose constraints. To achieve an optimum balance of dose prescription and dose reduction to surrounding organs, such as the lungs and heart, we compared hybrid dose distributions and investigated the best combination of the following recent irradiation techniques: volumetric modulation arc therapy (VMAT), proton broad-beam irradiation, and intensity-modulated proton beam therapy (IMPT).

Materials and methods: Forty-five patients with advanced esophageal cancer whose primary lesions were located in the middle- or lower-thoracic region were studied. Radiotherapy plans for the initial and boost irradiation in the 2-phase method were calculated using VMAT, proton broad-beam irradiation, and IMPT calculation codes, and the dose-volume histogram indices of the lungs and heart for the accumulated plans were compared.

Results: In plans using boost proton irradiation with a prescribed dose of 60 Gy(RBE), all dose-volume histogram indices were significantly below the tolerance limits. Initial and boost irradiation with VMAT resulted in the median dose of V30 Gy(RBE)(heart) of 27.4% and an achievement rate below the tolerance limit of 57.8% (26 cases). In simulations of dose escalation up to 70 Gy(RBE), initial and boost IMPT resulted in the highest achievement rate, satisfying all dose constraints in 95.6% (43 cases).

Conclusion: Applying VMAT to both initial and boost irradiation is not recommended because of the increased risk of the cardiac dose exceeding the tolerance limit. IMPT may allow dose escalation of up to 70 Gy(RBE) without radiation risks to the lungs and heart in the treatment of advanced esophageal cancer.

Keywords: Esophageal cancer; IMPT; Proton broad-beam irradiation; Two-phase method; VMAT.