Purpose: Theoretical studies have shown that dose-painting-by-numbers (DPBN) could lead to large gains in tumor control probability (TCP) compared to conventional dose distributions. However, these gains may vary considerably among patients due to (a) variations in the overall radiosensitivity of the tumor, (b) variations in the 3D distribution of intra-tumor radiosensitivity within the tumor in combination with patient anatomy, (c) uncertainties of the 3D radiosensitivity maps, (d) geometrical uncertainties, and (e) temporal changes in radiosensitivity. The goal of this study was to investigate how much of the theoretical gains of DPBN remain when accounting for these factors. DPBN was compared to both a homogeneous reference dose distribution and to nonselective dose escalation (NSDE), that uses the same dose constraints as DPBN, but does not require 3D radiosensitivity maps. Methods: A fully automated DPBN treatment planning strategy was developed and implemented in our in-house developed treatment planning system (TPS) that is robust to uncertainties in radiosensitivity and patient positioning. The method optimized the expected TCP based on 3D maps of intra-tumor radiosensitivity, while accounting for normal tissue constraints, uncertainties in radiosensitivity, and setup uncertainties. Based on FDG-PETCT scans of 12 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients, data of 324 virtual patients were created synthetically with large variations in the aforementioned parameters. DPBN was compared to both a uniform dose distribution of 60 Gy, and NSDE. In total, 360 DPBN and 24 NSDE treatment plans were optimized. Results: The average gain in TCP over all patients and radiosensitivity maps of DPBN was 0.54 ± 0.20 (range 0–0.97) compared to the 60 Gy uniform reference dose distribution, but only 0.03 ± 0.03 (range 0–0.22) compared to NSDE. The gains varied per patient depending on the radiosensitivity of the entire tumor and the 3D radiosensitivity maps. Uncertainty in radiosensitivity led to a considerable loss in TCP gain, which could be recovered almost completely by accounting for the uncertainty directly in the optimization. Conclusions: Our results suggest that the gains of DPBN can be considerable compared to a 60 Gy uniform reference dose distribution, but small compared to NSDE for most patients. Using the robust DPBN treatment planning system developed in this work, the optimal DPBN treatment plan could be derived for any patient for whom 3D intra-tumor radiosensitivity maps are known, and can be used to select patients that might benefit from DPBN. NSDE could be an effective strategy to increase TCP without requiring biological information of the tumor.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors thank Rens van Haveren for help with the implementation of positioning robustness in Erasmus-iCycle. SP acknowledges financial support from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF EMCR 2014-6667). Erasmus MC Cancer Institute has research collaborations with Accuray Inc., Sunnyvale, USA and Elekta AB, Stockholm, Sweden. The data that support the findings of this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to privacy or ethical restrictions.
The authors thank Rens van Haveren for help with the implementation of positioning robustness in Erasmus‐iCycle. SP acknowledges financial support from the Dutch Cancer Society (KWF EMCR 2014‐6667). Erasmus MC Cancer Institute has research collaborations with Accuray Inc., Sunnyvale, USA and Elekta AB, Stockholm, Sweden.
© 2021 The Authors. Medical Physics published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Association of Physicists in Medicine.