Impact of Spot Size and Spacing on the Quality of Robustly Optimized Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy Plans for Lung Cancer

Chenbin Liu, Steven E. Schild, Joe Y. Chang, Zhongxing Liao, Shawn Korte, Jiajian Shen, Xiaoning Ding, Yanle Hu, Yixiu Kang, Sameer R. Keole, Terence T. Sio, William W. Wong, Narayan Sahoo, Martin Bues, Wei Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Purpose: To investigate how spot size and spacing affect plan quality, robustness, and interplay effects of robustly optimized intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) for lung cancer. Methods and Materials: Two robustly optimized IMPT plans were created for 10 lung cancer patients: first by a large-spot machine with in-air energy-dependent large spot size at isocenter (σ: 6-15 mm) and spacing (1.3 σ), and second by a small-spot machine with in-air energy-dependent small spot size (σ: 2-6 mm) and spacing (5 mm). Both plans were generated by optimizing radiation dose to internal target volume on averaged 4-dimensional computed tomography scans using an in-house–developed IMPT planning system. The dose–volume histograms band method was used to evaluate plan robustness. Dose evaluation software was developed to model time-dependent spot delivery to incorporate interplay effects with randomized starting phases for each field per fraction. Patient anatomy voxels were mapped phase-to-phase via deformable image registration, and doses were scored using in-house–developed software. Dose–volume histogram indices, including internal target volume dose coverage, homogeneity, and organs at risk (OARs) sparing, were compared using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test. Results: Compared with the large-spot machine, the small-spot machine resulted in significantly lower heart and esophagus mean doses, with comparable target dose coverage, homogeneity, and protection of other OARs. Plan robustness was comparable for targets and most OARs. With interplay effects considered, significantly lower heart and esophagus mean doses with comparable target dose coverage and homogeneity were observed using smaller spots. Conclusions: Robust optimization with a small spot-machine significantly improves heart and esophagus sparing, with comparable plan robustness and interplay effects compared with robust optimization with a large-spot machine. A small-spot machine uses a larger number of spots to cover the same tumors compared with a large-spot machine, which gives the planning system more freedom to compensate for the higher sensitivity to uncertainties and interplay effects for lung cancer treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)479-489
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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