Exploratory Study of 4D versus 3D Robust Optimization in Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy for Lung Cancer

Wei Liu, Steven E. Schild, Joe Y. Chang, Zhongxing Liao, Yu Hui Chang, Zhifei Wen, Jiajian Shen, Joshua B. Stoker, Xiaoning Ding, Yanle Hu, Narayan Sahoo, Michael G. Herman, Carlos Vargas, Sameer Keole, William Wong, Martin Bues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Purpose The purpose of this study was to compare the impact of uncertainties and interplay on 3-dimensional (3D) and 4D robustly optimized intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) plans for lung cancer in an exploratory methodology study. Methods and Materials IMPT plans were created for 11 nonrandomly selected non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) cases: 3D robustly optimized plans on average CTs with internal gross tumor volume density overridden to irradiate internal target volume, and 4D robustly optimized plans on 4D computed tomography (CT) to irradiate clinical target volume (CTV). Regular fractionation (66 Gy [relative biological effectiveness; RBE] in 33 fractions) was considered. In 4D optimization, the CTV of individual phases received nonuniform doses to achieve a uniform cumulative dose. The root-mean-square dose-volume histograms (RVH) measured the sensitivity of the dose to uncertainties, and the areas under the RVH curve (AUCs) were used to evaluate plan robustness. Dose evaluation software modeled time-dependent spot delivery to incorporate interplay effect with randomized starting phases of each field per fraction. Dose-volume histogram (DVH) indices comparing CTV coverage, homogeneity, and normal tissue sparing were evaluated using Wilcoxon signed rank test. Results 4D robust optimization plans led to smaller AUC for CTV (14.26 vs 18.61, respectively; P=.001), better CTV coverage (Gy [RBE]) (D95% CTV: 60.6 vs 55.2, respectively; P=.001), and better CTV homogeneity (D5%-D95% CTV: 10.3 vs 17.7, resspectively; P=.002) in the face of uncertainties. With interplay effect considered, 4D robust optimization produced plans with better target coverage (D95% CTV: 64.5 vs 63.8, respectively; P=.0068), comparable target homogeneity, and comparable normal tissue protection. The benefits from 4D robust optimization were most obvious for the 2 typical stage III lung cancer patients. Conclusions Our exploratory methodology study showed that, compared to 3D robust optimization, 4D robust optimization produced significantly more robust and interplay-effect-resistant plans for targets with comparable dose distributions for normal tissues. A further study with a larger and more realistic patient population is warranted to generalize the conclusions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)523-533
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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