Doses to radiation sensitive organs and structures located outside the radiotherapeutic target volume for four treatment situations

May L. Foo, Edwin C. McCullough, Robert L. Foote, Thomas M. Pisansky, Edward G. Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


This study documents dosage to radiation sensitive organs/structures located outside the radiotherapeutic target volume for four treatment situations: (a) head and neck, (b) brain (pituitary and temporal lobe), (c) breast and (d) pelvis. Clinically relevant treatment fields were simulated on a tissue-equivalent anthropomorphic phantom and subsequently irradiated with Cobalt-60 gamma rays, 6- and 18-MV x-ray beams. Thermoluminescent dosimeters and diodes were used to measure absorbed dose. The head and neck treatment resulted in significant doses of radiation to the lens and thyroid gland. The total treatment lens dose (300-400 cGy) could be cataractogegic while measured thyroid doses (1000-8000 cGy) have the potential of causing chemical hypothyroidism, thyroid neoplasms, Graves' disease and hyperparathyroidism. Total treatment retinal (400-700cGy) and pituitary (460-1000 cGy) doses are below that considered capable of producing chronic disease. The pituitary treatment studied consisted of various size parallel opposed lateral and vertex fields (4 × 4 through 8 × 8 cm). The lens dose (40-200 cGy) with all field sizes is below those of clinical concern. Parotid doses (130-1200 cGy) and thyroid doses (350-600 cGy) are in a range where temporary xerostomia (parotid) and thyroid neoplasia development are a reasonable possibility. The retinal dose (4000 cGy) from the largest field size (8 × 8 cm2) is in the range where retinopathy has been reported. The left temporal lobe treatment also used parallel opposed lateral and vertex fields (7 × 7 and 10 × 10 cm). Doses to the pituitary gland (5200-6200 cGy), both parotids (200-6900 cGy), left lens (200-300 cGy) and left retina (1700-4500 cGy) are capable of causing significant future clinical problems. Right-sided structures received insignificant doses. Secondary malignancies could result from the measured total treatment thyroid doses (670-980 cGy). Analysis of three breast/chest wall and regional nodal irradiation techniques demonstrated a 25-50% decrease in secondary lung dose with use of independent collimation compared to use of custom alloy blocking material. However, it is unlikely that a reduction in secondary dose of this magnitude would reduce the risk of treatment sequellae. In four-field "box" pelvic irradiation, secondary testes dose may result in temporary (clamshell shield) or permanent azoospermia, but is unlikely to impair androgen production.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)403-417
Number of pages15
JournalInternational journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 30 1993


  • Normal tissue radiation
  • Peripheral dose radiation
  • Scatter dose radiation
  • Secondary radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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