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  • Author: Julian Malicki x
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Doses in organs at risk during head and neck radiotherapy using IMRT and 3D-CRT

Background. Treatment planning for head and neck (H&N) cancer is complex due to the number of organs at risk (OAR) located near the planning treatment volume (PTV). Distant OAR must also be taken into consideration. Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) and three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3D-CRT) are both common H&N treatment techniques with very different planning approaches. Although IMRT allows a better dose conformity in PTV, there is much less evidence as to which technique less dose to OAR is delivered. Therefore, the aim of the study was to compare IMRT to 3D-CRT treatment in terms of dose distribution to OAR in H&N cancer.

Patients and methods. This was a prospective study of a series of 25 patients diagnosed with stage cT3-4N0-2 laryngeal cancer. All patients underwent total laryngectomy and bilateral selective neck dissections. In all cases, patients were treated with IMRT, although a 3D-CRT treatment plan was also developed for the comparative analysis. To compare doses to specific OAR, we developed a new comparative index based on sub-volumes. Results. In general, IMRT appears to deliver comparable or greater doses to OAR, although the only significant differences were found in the cerebellum, in which 3D-CRT was found to better spare the organ.

Conclusions. Organs located outside of the IMRT beam (i.e., distant organs) are generally thought to be well-spared. However, the results of this study show that, in the case of the cerebellum, this was not true. This finding suggests that larger studies should be performed to understand the effects of IMRT on distant tissues. Anthropomorphic phantom studies could also confirm these results.

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Dosimetric study of the protection level of the bone marrow in patients with cervical or endometrial cancer for three radiotherapy techniques - 3D CRT, IMRT and VMAT. Study protocol.


Background: The paper shows the methodology of an in-phantom study of the protection level of the bone marrow in patients with cervical or endometrial cancer for three radiotherapy techniques: three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy, intensity modulated radiotherapy, and volumetric modulated arc therapy, preceded by the procedures of image guidance.

Methods/Design: The dosimetric evaluation of the doses will be performed in an in-house multi-element anthropomorphic phantom of the female pelvic area created by three-dimensional printing technology. The volume and position of the structures will be regulated according to the guidelines from the Bayesian network. The input data for the learning procedure of the model will be obtained from the retrospective analysis of imaging data obtained for 96 patients with endometrial cancer or cervical cancer treated with radiotherapy in our centre in 2008-2013. Three anatomical representations of the phantom simulating three independent clinical cases will be chosen. Five alternative treatment plans (1 × three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy, 2 × intensity modulated radiotherapy and 2 × volumetric modulated arc therapy) will be created for each representation. To simulate image-guided radiotherapy, ten specific recombinations will be designated, for each anatomical representation separately, reflecting possible changes in the volume and position of the phantom components.

Discussion: The comparative analysis of planned measurements will identify discrepancies between calculated doses and doses that were measured in the phantom. Finally, differences between the doses cumulated in the hip plates performed by different techniques simulating the gynaecological patients' irradiation of dose delivery will be established. The results of this study will form the basis of the prospective clinical trial that will be designed for the assessment of hematologic toxicity and its correlation with the doses cumulated in the hip plates, for gynaecologic patients undergoing radiation therapy.

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Preoperative radiotherapy for rectal cancer: a comparative study of quality control adherence at two cancer hospitals in Spain and Poland


Background. We performed a clinical audit of preoperative rectal cancer treatment at two European radiotherapy centres (Poland and Spain). The aim was to independently verify adherence to a selection of indicators of treatment quality and to identify any notable inter-institutional differences.

Methods. A total of 162 patients, in Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) 68 and in Greater Poland Cancer Centre (GPCC) 94, diagnosed with locally advanced rectal cancer and treated with preoperative radiotherapy or radiochemotherapy were included in retrospective study. A total of 7 quality control measures were evaluated: waiting time, multidisciplinary treatment approach, portal verification, in vivo dosimetry, informed consent, guidelines for diagnostics and therapy, and patient monitoring during treatment.

Results. Several differences were observed. Waiting time from pathomorphological diagnosis to initial consultation was 31 (ICO) vs. 8 (GPCC) days. Waiting time from the first visit to the beginning of the treatment was twice as long at the ICO. At the ICO, 82% of patient experienced treatment interruptions. The protocol for portal verification was the same at both institutions. In vivo dosimetry is not used for this treatment localization at the ICO. The ICO utilizes locally-developed guidelines for diagnostics and therapy, while the GPCC is currently developing its own guidelines.

Conclusions. An independent external clinical audit is an excellent approach to identifying and resolving deficiencies in quality control procedures. We identified several procedures amenable to improvement. Both institutions have since implemented changes to improve quality standards. We believe that all radiotherapy centres should perform a comprehensive clinical audit to identify and rectify deficiencies.

Open access
Measurements of doses from photon beam irradiation and scattered neutrons in an anthropomorphic phantom model of prostate cancer: a comparison between 3DCRT, IMRT and tomotherapy


Introduction. The rapid development of new radiotherapy technologies, such as intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) or tomotherapy, has resulted in the capacity to deliver a more homogenous dose in the target. However, the higher doses associated with these techniques are a reason for concern because they may increase the dose outside the target. In the present study, we compared 3DCRT, IMRT and tomotherapy to assess the doses to organs at risk (OARs) resulting from photon beam irradiation and scattered neutrons.

Material and methods. The doses to OARs outside the target were measured in an anthropomorphic Alderson phantom using thermoluminescence detectors (TLD 100) 6Li (7.5%) and 7Li (92.5%). The neutron fluence rate [cm−2·s−1] at chosen points inside the phantom was measured with gold foils (0.5 cm diameter, mean surface density of 0.108 g/cm3).

Results. The doses [Gy] delivered to the OARs for 3DCRT, IMRT and tomotherapy respectively, were as follows: thyroid gland (0.62 ± 0.001 vs. 2.88 ± 0.004 vs. 0.58 ± 0.003); lung (0.99 ± 0.003 vs. 4.78 ± 0.006 vs. 0.67 ± 0.003); bladder (80.61 ± 0.054 vs. 53.75 ± 0.070 vs. 34.71 ± 0.059); and testes (4.38 ± 0.017 vs. 6.48 ± 0.013 vs. 4.39 ± 0.020). The neutron dose from 20 MV X-ray beam accounted for 0.5% of the therapeutic dose prescribed in the PTV. The further from the field edge the higher the contribution of this secondary radiation dose (from 8% to ~45%).

Conclusion. For tomotherapy, all OARs outside the therapeutic field are well-spared. In contrast, IMRT achieved better sparing than 3DCRT only in the bladder. The photoneutron dose from the use of high-energy X-ray beam constituted a notable portion (0.5%) of the therapeutic dose prescribed to the PTV.

Open access
Carcinogenesis induced by low-dose radiation



Although the effects of high dose radiation on human cells and tissues are relatively well defined, there is no consensus regarding the effects of low and very low radiation doses on the organism. Ionizing radiation has been shown to induce gene mutations and chromosome aberrations which are known to be involved in the process of carcinogenesis. The induction of secondary cancers is a challenging long-term side effect in oncologic patients treated with radiation. Medical sources of radiation like intensity modulated radiotherapy used in cancer treatment and computed tomography used in diagnostics, deliver very low doses of radiation to large volumes of healthy tissue, which might contribute to increased cancer rates in long surviving patients and in the general population. Research shows that because of the phenomena characteristic for low dose radiation the risk of cancer induction from exposure of healthy tissues to low dose radiation can be greater than the risk calculated from linear no-threshold model. Epidemiological data collected from radiation workers and atomic bomb survivors confirms that exposure to low dose radiation can contribute to increased cancer risk and also that the risk might correlate with the age at exposure.


Understanding the molecular mechanisms of response to low dose radiation is crucial for the proper evaluation of risks and benefits that stem from these exposures and should be considered in the radiotherapy treatment planning and in determining the allowed occupational exposures.

Open access
Oral cavity and oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma in young adults: a review of the literature


Background. Head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC) is a disease of middle-aged to elderly adults. However, an increased incidence of HNSCC in young people under 45 years of age has been reported recently. In the present review, we focused on the epidemiology and aetiology of HNSCC in adults under 45 years of age.

Methods. We reviewed literature related to HNSCC in adult patients less than 45 years of age and discussed current treatment options and prognosis.

Results. HNSCC in young adults is associated with a higher incidence rate in nonsmokers, lower female-to-male ratio, a higher percentage of oral cavity and oropharynx tumours, and fewer second primary tumours. However, aside from traditional risk factors of tobacco and alcohol exposure, the causes of these cancers in young adults remain unclear. Agents that might contribute to risk include infection with high-risk human papillomavirus subtypes as well as genetic factors or immunodeficiency status. The expected increase in incidence and mortality of the young with HNSCC may become a major public health concern if current trends persist, particularly lifestyle habits that may contribute to this disease.

Conclusions. Given the younger age and potential long-term adverse sequelae of traditional HNSCC treatments, young adults should be treated on a case-by-case basis and post-therapy quality of life must be considered in any treatment-decision making process.

Open access