Date of Graduation


Document Type

Dissertation (PhD)

Program Affiliation

Medical Physics

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Mary Martel

Committee Member

Tina Briere

Committee Member

David Followill

Committee Member

Zhongxing Liao

Committee Member

Susan Tucker


The prognosis for lung cancer patients remains poor. Five year survival rates have been reported to be 15%. Studies have shown that dose escalation to the tumor can lead to better local control and subsequently better overall survival. However, dose to lung tumor is limited by normal tissue toxicity. The most prevalent thoracic toxicity is radiation pneumonitis. In order to determine a safe dose that can be delivered to the healthy lung, researchers have turned to mathematical models predicting the rate of radiation pneumonitis. However, these models rely on simple metrics based on the dose-volume histogram and are not yet accurate enough to be used for dose escalation trials. The purpose of this work was to improve the fit of predictive risk models for radiation pneumonitis and to show the dosimetric benefit of using the models to guide patient treatment planning.

The study was divided into 3 specific aims. The first two specifics aims were focused on improving the fit of the predictive model. In Specific Aim 1 we incorporated information about the spatial location of the lung dose distribution into a predictive model. In Specific Aim 2 we incorporated ventilation-based functional information into a predictive pneumonitis model. In the third specific aim a proof of principle virtual simulation was performed where a model-determined limit was used to scale the prescription dose.

The data showed that for our patient cohort, the fit of the model to the data was not improved by incorporating spatial information. Although we were not able to achieve a significant improvement in model fit using pre-treatment ventilation, we show some promising results indicating that ventilation imaging can provide useful information about lung function in lung cancer patients. The virtual simulation trial demonstrated that using a personalized lung dose limit derived from a predictive model will result in a different prescription than what was achieved with the clinically used plan; thus demonstrating the utility of a normal tissue toxicity model in personalizing the prescription dose.


radiation therapy, radiation pneumonitis