Incorporation of Biologic Response Variance Modeling Into the Clinic: Limiting Risk of Brachial Plexopathy and Other Late Effects of Breast Cancer Proton Beam Therapy

Robert W. Mutter, Krishan R. Jethwa, Hok Seum Wan Chan Tseung, Stephanie M. Wick, Mohamed M.H. Kahila, Jason K. Viehman, Dean A. Shumway, Kimberly S. Corbin, Sean S. Park, Nicholas B. Remmes, Thomas J. Whitaker, Chris J. Beltran

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Purpose: The relative biologic effectiveness (RBE) rises with increasing linear energy transfer toward the end of proton tracks. Presently, there is no consensus on how RBE heterogeneity should be accounted for in breast cancer proton therapy treatment planning. Our purpose was to determine the dosimetric consequences of incorporating a brachial plexus (BP) biologic dose constraint and to describe other clinical implications of biologic planning. Methods and Materials: We instituted a biologic dose constraint for the BP in the context of MC1631, a randomized trial of conventional versus hypofractionated postmastectomy intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT). IMPT plans of 13 patients treated before the implementation of the biologic dose constraint (cohort A) were compared with IMPT plans of 38 patients treated on MC1631 after its implementation (cohort B) using (1) a commercially available Eclipse treatment planning system (RBE = 1.1); (2) an in-house graphic processor unit-based Monte Carlo physical dose simulation (RBE = 1.1); and (3) an in-house Monte Carlo biologic dose (MCBD) simulation that assumes a linear relationship between RBE and dose-averaged linear energy transfer (product of RBE and physical dose = biologic dose). Results: Before implementation of a BP biologic dose constraint, the Eclipse mean BP D0.01 cm3 was 107%, and the MCBD estimate was 128% (ie, 64 Gy [RBE = biologic dose] in 25 fractions for a 50-Gy [RBE = 1.1] prescription), compared with 100.0% and 116.0%, respectively, after the implementation of the constraint. Implementation of the BP biologic dose constraint did not significantly affect clinical target volume coverage. MCBD plans predicted greater internal mammary node coverage and higher heart dose than Eclipse plans. Conclusions: Institution of a BP biologic dose constraint may reduce brachial plexopathy risk without compromising target coverage. MCBD plan evaluation provides valuable information to physicians that may assist in making clinical judgments regarding relative priority of target coverage versus normal tissue sparing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e71-e81
JournalPractical Radiation Oncology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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