The influence of interpatient and intrapatient rectum variation on external beam treatment of prostate cancer

Di Yan, Benhua Xu, David Lockman, Kamal Kota, Donald S. Brabbins, John Wong, Aluaro A. Martinez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Purpose: The rectal dose/volume relationship and inherent variations thereof are fundamental parameters to guide dose escalation in prostate cancer treatment. This study evaluates the effect of rectal dose/volume variation on the risk of rectal complication for different planning target volume (PTV) constructions. Methods and Materials: Thirty prostate patients with multiple daily CT scans obtained during the treatment course were included in this retrospective study. The dose distribution was calculated based on the pretreatment CT image alone. Treatment plans were generated by applying the four-field-box beam arrangement to each of three different PTVs: PTVs with 0.5-cm and 1.0-cm uniform margins, and a patient-specific PTV constructed using treatment imaging feedback. For each of the 30 patients, the rectal wall as manifested on each of multiple CT images was delineated after image bony registration to the pretreatment CT image, and applied to the corresponding treatment plan to obtain the rectal wall dose-volume histogram (DVH). Interpatient and intrapatient rectal dose/volume variations were quantified accordingly. The corresponding uncertainty and sensitivity of the risk of rectal complication to the variations were evaluated for each of the three PTVs. Finally, the efficacy of using multiple CT images to reduce uncertainty in planning evaluation was examined. Results: Sensitivity of the risk of rectal complication to rectal dose/volume variation strongly depends on the clinical target volume (CTV)-to-PTV margin or prescription dose, or both. Compared to the conventional two-dimensional (2D) prostate cancer treatment, the sensitivity for a conformal treatment can be 3 times higher or more. Due to the interpatient rectal dose/volume variation, the individual normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) was distributed from 10% to 37% when a common prescription dose was applied for all patients. The intrapatient rectal dose/volume variation introduces at least ± 25% uncertainty in the NTCP calculation for at least 10% or 25% of the patients treated with the PTV of 1.0- or 0.5-cm margin, respectively. These uncertainties were larger for the smaller PTV, with the standard deviation up to 20%. By applying multiple CT image feedback, the NTCP uncertainty could be reduced by a factor of 2.Conclusions: Shape and position variation of rectum has less influence on treatment planning in the conventional 2D treatment of prostate cancer. However, this influence is quickly growing with high treatment dose or small CTV-to-PTV margins. To reduce the variation and uncertainties in the treatment planning evaluation associated with the inter- and intrapatient rectal dose/volume variation, the iso-NTCP model and treatment image feedback technique can be applied in dose escalation trials of prostate cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1111-1119
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Rectal dose
  • Sensitivity of rectal NTCP variation
  • Uncertainty of rectal NTCP evaluation
  • Volume variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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