Patient anatomy-specific trade-offs between sub-clinical disease coverage and normal tissue dose reduction in head-and-neck cancer

Laura Patricia Kaplan*, Anne Ivalu Sander Holm, Jesper Grau Eriksen, Ben J.M. Heijmen, Stine Sofia Korreman, Linda Rossi

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Purpose: Risk of subclinical disease decreases with increasing distance from the GTV in head- and-neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). Depending on individual patient anatomy, OAR sparing could be improved by reducing target coverage in regions with low risk of subclinical spread. Using automated multi-criteria optimization, we investigate patient-specific optimal trade-offs between target periphery coverage and OAR sparing. Methods: VMAT plans for 39 HNSCC patients were retrospectively created following our clinical three-target-level protocol: high-risk (PTV1), intermediate-risk (PTV2, 5 mm expansion from PTV1), and elective (PTV3). A baseline plan fulfilling clinical constraints (D 99 % ≥95 % for all PTVs) was compared to three plans with reduced PTV2 coverage (goals: PTV2 D 99 % ≥90 % or 85 %, or no PTV2) at the outer edge of PTV2. Plans were compared on PTV D 99 %, OAR D mean, and NTCP (xerostomia/dysphagia). Results: Trade-offs between PTV2 coverage and OAR doses varied considerably between patients. For plans with PTV2 D 99 % -goal 90 %, median PTV2 D 99 % was 91.5 % resulting in xerostomia (≥grade 4) and dysphagia (≥grade 2) NTCP decrease of median [maximum] 1.9 % [5.3 %] and 1.1 % [4.1 %], respectively, compared to nominal PTV2 D 99 % -goal 95 %. For PTV2 D 99 % -goal 85 % median PTV D 99 % was 87 % with NTCP improvements of 4.6 % [9.9 %] and 1.5 % [5.4 %]. For no-margin plans, PTV2 D 99 % decreased to 83.3 % with NTCP reductions of 5.1 % [10.2 %] and 1.4 % [6.1 %]. Conclusion: Clinically relevant, patient-specific reductions in OARs and NTCP were observed at limited cost in target under-coverage at the outermost PTV edge. Given the observed inter-patient variations, individual evaluation is warranted to determine whether trade- offs would benefit a specific patient.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109526
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Publication statusPublished - May 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
LPK was supported by DCCC Radiotherapy - The Danish National Research Center for Radiotherapy, Danish Cancer Society (Grant No. R191-A11526] and Danish Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the Danish Cancer Society (Grant No. R167-A11003].

Funding Information:
LPK and SK were supported by Aarhus University Research Foundation (Grant No AUFF-F-2016-FLS-8-4).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier B.V.


Dive into the research topics of 'Patient anatomy-specific trade-offs between sub-clinical disease coverage and normal tissue dose reduction in head-and-neck cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this