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A treatment planning study comparing Elekta VMAT and fixed field IMRT using the varian treatment planning system eclipse

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      The newest release of the Eclipse (Varian) treatment planning system (TPS) includes an optimizing engine for Elekta volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) planning. The purpose of this study was to evaluate this new algorithm and to compare it to intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for various disease sites by creating single- and double-arc VMAT plans.


      A total of 162 plans were evaluated in this study, including 38 endometrial, 57 head and neck, 12 brain, 10 breast and 45 prostate cancer cases. The real-life IMRT plans were developed during routine clinical cases using the TPS Eclipse. VMAT plans were generated using a preclinical version of Eclipse with tumor-region-specific optimizing templates without interference of the operator: with one full arc (1A) and with two full arcs (2A), and with partial arcs for breast and prostate with hip implant cases. All plans were evaluated based on target coverage, homogeneity and conformity. The organs at risk (OARs) were analyzed according to plan objectives, such as the mean and maximum doses. If one or more objectives were exceeded, the plan was considered clinically unacceptable, and a second VMAT plan was created by adapting the optimization penalties once.


      Compared to IMRT, single- and double-arc VMAT plans showed comparable or better results concerning the target coverage: the maximum dose in the target for 1A is the same as that for IMRT; for 2A, an average reduction of 1.3% over all plans was observed. The conformity showed a statistically significant improvement for both 1A (+3%) and 2A (+6%). The mean total body dose was statistically significant lower for the considered arc techniques (IMRT: 16.0 Gy, VMAT: 15.3 Gy, p < 0.001). However, the sparing of OARs shows individual behavior that depends strongly on the different tumor regions. A clear difference is found in the number of monitor units (MUs) per plan: VMAT shows a reduction of 31%.


      These findings demonstrate that based on optimizing templates with minimal interaction of the operator, the Eclipse TPS is able to achieve a plan quality for the Elekta VMAT delivery technique that is comparable to that of fixed-field IMRT. Plans with two arcs show better dose distributions than plans with one arc.

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      Most cited references 28

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      Volumetric modulated arc therapy: IMRT in a single gantry arc.

      In this work a novel plan optimization platform is presented where treatment is delivered efficiently and accurately in a single dynamically modulated arc. Improvements in patient care achieved through image-guided positioning and plan adaptation have resulted in an increase in overall treatment times. Intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has also increased treatment time by requiring a larger number of beam directions, increased monitor units (MU), and, in the case of tomotherapy, a slice-by-slice delivery. In order to maintain a similar level of patient throughput it will be necessary to increase the efficiency of treatment delivery. The solution proposed here is a novel aperture-based algorithm for treatment plan optimization where dose is delivered during a single gantry arc of up to 360 deg. The technique is similar to tomotherapy in that a full 360 deg of beam directions are available for optimization but is fundamentally different in that the entire dose volume is delivered in a single source rotation. The new technique is referred to as volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT). Multileaf collimator (MLC) leaf motion and number of MU per degree of gantry rotation is restricted during the optimization so that gantry rotation speed, leaf translation speed, and dose rate maxima do not excessively limit the delivery efficiency. During planning, investigators model continuous gantry motion by a coarse sampling of static gantry positions and fluence maps or MLC aperture shapes. The technique presented here is unique in that gantry and MLC position sampling is progressively increased throughout the optimization. Using the full gantry range will theoretically provide increased flexibility in generating highly conformal treatment plans. In practice, the additional flexibility is somewhat negated by the additional constraints placed on the amount of MLC leaf motion between gantry samples. A series of studies are performed that characterize the relationship between gantry and MLC sampling, dose modeling accuracy, and optimization time. Results show that gantry angle and MLC sample spacing as low as 1 deg and 0.5 cm, respectively, is desirable for accurate dose modeling. It is also shown that reducing the sample spacing dramatically reduces the ability of the optimization to arrive at a solution. The competing benefits of having small and large sample spacing are mutually realized using the progressive sampling technique described here. Preliminary results show that plans generated with VMAT optimization exhibit dose distributions equivalent or superior to static gantry IMRT. Timing studies have shown that the VMAT technique is well suited for on-line verification and adaptation with delivery times that are reduced to approximately 1.5-3 min for a 200 cGy fraction.
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        Radiation-induced second cancers: the impact of 3D-CRT and IMRT.

        Information concerning radiation-induced malignancies comes from the A-bomb survivors and from medically exposed individuals, including second cancers in radiation therapy patients. The A-bomb survivors show an excess incidence of carcinomas in tissues such as the gastrointestinal tract, breast, thyroid, and bladder, which is linear with dose up to about 2.5 Sv. There is great uncertainty concerning the dose-response relationship for radiation-induced carcinogenesis at higher doses. Some animal and human data suggest a decrease at higher doses, usually attributed to cell killing; other data suggest a plateau in dose. Radiotherapy patients also show an excess incidence of carcinomas, often in sites remote from the treatment fields; in addition there is an excess incidence of sarcomas in the heavily irradiated in-field tissues. The transition from conventional radiotherapy to three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) involves a reduction in the volume of normal tissues receiving a high dose, with an increase in dose to the target volume that includes the tumor and a limited amount of normal tissue. One might expect a decrease in the number of sarcomas induced and also (less certain) a small decrease in the number of carcinomas. All around, a good thing. By contrast, the move from 3D-CRT to intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) involves more fields, and the dose-volume histograms show that, as a consequence, a larger volume of normal tissue is exposed to lower doses. In addition, the number of monitor units is increased by a factor of 2 to 3, increasing the total body exposure, due to leakage radiation. Both factors will tend to increase the risk of second cancers. Altogether, IMRT is likely to almost double the incidence of second malignancies compared with conventional radiotherapy from about 1% to 1.75% for patients surviving 10 years. The numbers may be larger for longer survival (or for younger patients), but the ratio should remain the same.
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          A conformation number to quantify the degree of conformality in brachytherapy and external beam irradiation: application to the prostate.

          This article presents a method of quantitative assessment of the degree of conformality and its designation by a single numerical value. A conformation number is introduced to evaluate objectively the degree of conformality. A comparison is made between the conformation number as found for external beam treatment plans and ultrasonically guided 125I seed implants for localized prostate cancer. The conformation number in case of a planning target volume irradiated with two opposed open beams, three open beams, and three beams with customized blocks amounted to 0.17, 0.39, and 0.65, respectively. The conformation number as found for ultrasonically guided permanent prostate implants using 125I seeds averaged 0.72. The conformation number is a convenient instrument for indicating the degree of conformality by a single numerical value. Treatments with a conformation number greater than 0.60 might be termed conformal radiotherapy.

            Author and article information

            [1 ]Department of Radiation Oncology, Kantonsspital St. Gallen, Rorschacherstrasse 95, 9007 St. Gallen, Switzerland
            Radiat Oncol
            Radiat Oncol
            Radiation Oncology (London, England)
            BioMed Central
            10 July 2014
            : 9
            : 153
            25011529 4107584 1748-717X-9-153 10.1186/1748-717X-9-153
            Copyright © 2014 Peters et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.


            Oncology & Radiotherapy

            plan comparison, imrt, vmat, single arc, double arc, dose volume histogram


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