Background and purpose: For some treatment sites, there is evidence in the literature that five to nine equiangular input beam directions are enough for generating IMRT plans. For oesophagus cancer, there is a report showing that going from four to nine beams may even result in lower quality plans. In this paper, our previously published algorithm for automated beam angle selection (Cycle) has been extended to include segmented IMRT. For oesophagus cancer patients, we have investigated whether automated orientation selection from a large number of equiangular input beam directions (up to thirty-six) for IMRT optimisation can result in improved lung sparing. Materials and methods: CT-data from five oesophagus patients treated recently in our institute were used for this study. For a prescribed mean PTV dose of 55 Gy, Cycle was used in an iterative procedure to minimise the mean lung dose under the following hard constraints: standard deviation for PTV dose inhomogeneity 2% (1,1 Gy), maximum spinal cord dose 45 Gy. Conformal radiotherapy (CFRT) and IMRT plans for a standard four field oesophagus beam configuration were compared with IMRT plans generated by automated selection from nine or thirty-six equiangular input beam orientations. Comparisons were also made with dose distributions generated with our commercial treatment planning system (TPS), and with observations in the literature. Results: Using Cycle, automated orientation selection from nine or thirty-six input beam directions resulted in improved lung sparing compared to the four field set-ups. Compared to selection from nine input orientations, selection from thirty-six directions did always result in lower mean lung doses, sometimes with even fewer non-zero weight beams. On average only seven beams with a non-zero weight were enough for obtaining the lowest mean lung dose, yielding clinically feasible plans even in case of thirty-six input directions for the optimisation process. With our commercial TPS we observed the same contra-intuitive, unfavourable results as reported in the literature; nine field equiangular IMRT plans had substantially higher mean lung doses than plans for the conventional four field set-ups. For all cases, the Cycle plans generated from nine equiangular input directions were superior compared to similar plans generated with our commercial TPS. Conclusions: For the studied oesophagus cancer patients the best plans for IMRT were obtained with Cycle, using automated beam orientation selection from thirty-six input beam directions. The lowest mean lung doses could be obtained with, on average, a selection of only seven beams with non-zero weight.

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Radiotherapy & Oncology
Department of Radiation Oncology

Woudstra, E, Heijmen, B.J.M, & Storchi, P.R. (2005). Automated selection of beam orientations and segmented intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for treatment of oesophagus tumors. Radiotherapy & Oncology, 77(3), 254–261. doi:10.1016/j.radonc.2005.06.028