Purpose: To study the impact of incorporation of lung perfusion information in the optimization of radical radiotherapy (RT) treatment plans for patients with medically inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Materials and methods: The treatment plans for a virtual phantom and for five NSCLC patients with typical defects of pre-RT lung perfusion were optimized to minimize geometrically determined parameters as the mean lung dose (MLD), the lung volume receiving more than 20 Gy (V20), and the functional equivalent of the MLD, using perfusion-weighted dose-volume histograms. For the patients the (perfusion-weighted) optimized plans were compared to the clinically applied treatment plans.
Results: The feasibility of perfusion-weighted optimization was demonstrated in the phantom. Using perfusion information resulted in an increase of the weights of those beams that were directed through the hypo-perfused lung regions both for the phantom and for the studied patients. The automatically optimized dose distributions were improved with respect to lung toxicity compared with the clinical treatment plans. For patients with one hypo-perfused hemi-thorax, the estimated gain in post-RT lung perfusion was 6% of the prescribed dose compared to the geometrically optimized plan. For patients with smaller perfusion defects, perfusion-weighted optimization resulted in the same plan as the geometrically optimized plan.
Conclusion: Perfusion-weighted optimization resulted in clinically well applicable treatment plans, which cause less radiation damage to functioning lung for patients with large perfusion defects.