Purpose: Intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) is sensitive to uncertainties from patient setup and proton beam range, as well as interplay effect. In addition, respiratory motion may vary from cycle to cycle, and also from day to day. These uncertainties can severely degrade the original plan quality and potentially affect patient’s outcome. In this work, we developed a new tool to comprehensively consider the impact of all these uncertainties and provide plan robustness evaluation under them. Methods: We developed a comprehensive plan robustness evaluation tool that considered both uncertainties from patient setup and proton beam range, as well as respiratory motion simultaneously. To mimic patients' respiratory motion, the time spent in each phase was randomly sampled based on patient-specific breathing pattern parameters as acquired during the four-dimensional (4D)-computed tomography (CT) simulation. Spots were then assigned to one specific phase according to the temporal relationship between spot delivery sequence and patients’ respiratory motion. Dose in each phase was calculated by summing contributions from all the spots delivered in that phase. The final 4D dynamic dose was obtained by deforming all doses in each phase to the maximum exhalation phase. Three hundred (300) scenarios (10 different breathing patterns with 30 different setup and range uncertainty scenario combinations) were calculated for each plan. The dose-volume histograms (DVHs) band method was used to assess plan robustness. Benchmarking the tool as an application’s example, we compared plan robustness under both three-dimensional (3D) and 4D robustly optimized IMPT plans for 10 nonrandomly selected patients with non-small cell lung cancer. Results: The developed comprehensive plan robustness tool had been successfully applied to compare the plan robustness between 3D and 4D robustly optimized IMPT plans for 10 lung cancer patients. In the presence of interplay effect with uncertainties considered simultaneously, 4D robustly optimized plans provided significantly better CTV coverage (D95%, P = 0.002), CTV homogeneity (D5%-D95%, P = 0.002) with less target hot spots (D5%, P = 0.002), and target coverage robustness (CTV D95% bandwidth, P = 0.004) compared to 3D robustly optimized plans. Superior dose sparing of normal lung (lung Dmean, P = 0.020) favoring 4D plans and comparable normal tissue sparing including esophagus, heart, and spinal cord for both 3D and 4D plans were observed. The calculation time for all patients included in this study was 11.4 ± 2.6 min. Conclusion: A comprehensive plan robustness evaluation tool was successfully developed and benchmarked for plan robustness evaluation in the presence of interplay effect, setup and range uncertainties. The very high efficiency of this tool marks its clinical adaptation, highly practical and versatile nature, including possible real-time intra-fractional interplay effect evaluation as a potential application for future use.
- Intensity-modulated proton therapy
- Interplay effect
- asymmetric breathing
- non-small cell lung cancer
- robustness evaluation
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging