Reduction of setup uncertainties and tumor motion in the radiation therapy of lung tumors

Christopher Lee Nelson, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Because the goal of radiation therapy is to deliver a lethal dose to the tumor, accurate information on the location of the tumor needs to be known. Margins are placed around the tumor to account for variations in the daily position of the tumor. If tumor motion and patient setup uncertainties can be reduced, margins that account for such uncertainties in tumor location in can be reduced allowing dose escalation, which in turn could potentially improve survival rates. In the first part of this study, we monitor the location of fiducials implanted in the periphery of lung tumors to determine the extent of non-gated and gated fiducial motion, and to quantify patient setup uncertainties. In the second part we determine where the tumor is when different methods of image-guided patient setup and respiratory gating are employed. In the final part we develop, validate, and implement a technique in which patient setup uncertainties are reduced by aligning patients based upon fiducial locations in projection images. Results from the first part indicate that respiratory gating reduces fiducial motion relative to motion during normal respiration and setup uncertainties when the patients were aligned each day using externally placed skin marks are large. The results from the second part indicate that current margins that account for setup uncertainty and tumor motion result in less than 2% of the tumor outside of the planning target volume (PTV) when the patient is aligned using skin marks. In addition, we found that if respiratory gating is going to be used, it is most effective if used in conjunction with image-guided patient setup. From the third part, we successfully developed, validated, and implemented on a patient a technique for aligning a moving target prior to treatment to reduce the uncertainties in tumor location. In conclusion, setup uncertainties and tumor motion are a significant problem when treating tumors located within the thoracic region. Image-guided patient setup in conjunction with treatment delivery using respiratory gating reduces these uncertainties in tumor locations. In doing so, margins around the tumor used to generate the PTV can be reduced, which may allow for dose escalation to the tumor.

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Recommended Citation

Nelson, Christopher Lee, "Reduction of setup uncertainties and tumor motion in the radiation therapy of lung tumors" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3256558.