Exploratory study of seed spots analysis to characterize dose and linear-energy-transfer effect in adverse event initialization of pencil-beam-scanning proton therapy

Yunze Yang, Samir H. Patel, Jidapa Bridhikitti, William W. Wong, Michele Y. Halyard, Lisa A. McGee, Jean Claude M. Rwigema, Steven E. Schild, Sujay A. Vora, Tianming Liu, Martin Bues, Mirek Fatyga, Robert L. Foote, Wei Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Both dose and linear energy transfer (LET) could play a substantial role in adverse event (AE) initialization of cancer patients treated with pencil-beam-scanning (PBS) proton therapy. However, not all the voxels within the AE regions are directly induced from the dose and LET effect. It is important to study the synergistic effect of dose and LET in AE initialization by only including a subset of voxels that are dosimetrically important. Purpose: To perform exploratory investigation of the dose and LET effects upon AE initialization in PBS using seed spots analysis. Methods: A total of 113 head-and-neck (H&N) cancer patients receiving curative PBS were included. Among them, 20 patients experienced unanticipated CTCAEv4.0 grade ≥3 AEs (AE group) and 93 patients did not (control group). Within the AE group, 13 AE patients were included in the seed spot analysis to derive the descriptive features of AE initialization and the remaining 7 mandible osteoradionecrosis patients and 93 control patients were used to derive the feature-based volume constraint of mandible osteoradionecrosis. The AE regions were contoured and the corresponding dose–LET volume histograms of AE regions were generated for all patients in the AE group. We selected high LET voxels (the highest 5% of each dose bin) with a range of moderate-to-high dose (≥∼40-Gy relative biological effectiveness) as critical voxels. Critical voxels that were contiguous with each other were grouped into clusters. Each cluster was considered a potential independent seed spot for AE initialization. Seed spots were displayed in a 2D dose–LET plane based on their mean dose and LET to derive the descriptive features of AE initialization. A volume constraint of mandible osteoradionecrosis was then established based on the extracted features using a receiver operating characteristic curve. Results: The product of dose and LET (xBD) was found to be a descriptive feature of seed spots leading to AE initialization in this preliminary study. The derived xBD volume constraint for mandible osteoradionecrosis showed good performance with an area under curve of 0.87 (sensitivity of 0.714 and specificity of 0.807 in the leave-one-out cross-validation) for the very limited patient data included in this study. Conclusion: Our exploratory study showed that both dose and LET were observed to be important in AE initializations. The derived xBD volume constraint could predict mandible osteoradionecrosis reasonably well in the very limited H&N cancer patient data treated with PBS included in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6237-6252
Number of pages16
JournalMedical physics
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • adverse events
  • dose–LET volume histogram
  • head and neck
  • linear energy transfer
  • seed spot analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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