Purpose: Pulsed dose rate (PDR) brachytherapy is a new type of afterloading brachytherapy (BT) in which a continuous low dose rate (LDR) treatment is simulated by a series of 'pulses,' i.e., fractions of short duration (less than 0.5 h) with intervals between fractions of I to a few hours. At the Dr. Daniel den Hoed Cancer Center, the term 'PDR brachytherapy' is used for treatment schedules with a large number of fractions (at least four per day), while the term 'fractionated high dose rate (HDR) brachytherapy' is used for treatment schedules with just one or two brachytherapy fractions per day. Both treatments can be applied as alternatives for LDR BT. This article deals with the choice between PDR and fractionated HDR schedules and proposes possible fractionation schedules. Methods and Materials: To calculate HDR and PDR fractionation schedules with the intention of being equivalent to LDR BT, the linear-quadratic (LQ) model has been used in an incomplete repair formulation as given by Brenner and Hall, and by Thames. In contrast to earlier applications of this model, both the total physical dose and the overall time were not kept identical for LDR and HDR/PDR schedules. A range of possible PDR treatment schedules is presented, both for booster applications (in combination with external radiotherapy (ERT) and for BT applications as a single treatment. Because the knowledge of both α/β values and the half time for repair of sublethal damage (T( 1/2 )), which are required for these calculations, is quite limited, calculations regarding the equivalence of LDR and PDR treatments have been performed for a wide range of values of α/β and T( 1/2 ). The results are presented graphically as PDR/LDR dose ratios and as ratios of the PDR/LDR tumor control probabilities. Results: If the condition that total physical dose and overall time of a PDR treatment must be exactly identical to the values for the corresponding LDR treatment regimen is not applied, there appears to be less need for strong fractionation in PDR schedules. If the overall time is at least as long as that of the LDR schedule and if the total physical dose is (slightly) adapted, PDR schedules can be designed using longer pulse intervals of up to 3 h. Schedules with sufficiently long intervals have significant logistic advantages in terms of patient care and treatment tolerance. However, in general, PDR schedules that apply more fractionation have a lower risk of overdosing normal tissues in comparison to fractionated HDR schedules. Applying probable ranges for the values of α/β and T( 1/2 ), the model calculations indicate that the differences in effects between the proposed fractionated HDR and PDR schedules could be rather small. To detect the magnitude of these differences, (randomized) clinical studies with rather large patient groups might be needed. Conclusions: Pulsed dose rate treatment schedules with longer intervals of up to 3 h appear adequate to replace LDR treatment schedules. Whether PDR schedules can, indeed, replace LDR treatment schedules and whether they offer detectable advantages over schedules with less fractionation (fractionated HDR) should be tested in clinical studies.

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doi.org/10.1016/0360-3016(95)02054-3, hdl.handle.net/1765/64433
International Journal of Radiation: Oncology - Biology - Physics
Department of Radiation Oncology

Visser, A.G, van den Aardweg, G.J.M.J, & Levendag, P.C. (1996). Pulsed dose rate and fractionated high dose rate brachytherapy: Choice of brachytherapy schedules to replace low dose rate treatments. International Journal of Radiation: Oncology - Biology - Physics, 34(2), 497–505. doi:10.1016/0360-3016(95)02054-3