Date of Graduation


Document Type

Thesis (MS)

Program Affiliation

Medical Physics

Degree Name

Masters of Science (MS)

Advisor/Committee Chair

Laurence Court, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Lei Dong, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Kenneth R. Hess, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Xiaorong Ronald Zhu, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Zhongxing Liao, M.D.


Background: The physical characteristic of protons is that they deliver most of their radiation dose to the target volume and deliver no dose to the normal tissue distal to the tumor. Previously, numerous studies have shown unique advantages of proton therapy over intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) in conforming dose to the tumor and sparing dose to the surrounding normal tissues and the critical structures in many clinical sites. However, proton therapy is known to be more sensitive to treatment uncertainties such as inter- and intra-fractional variations in patient anatomy. To date, no study has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of proton therapy compared with the conventional IMRT under the consideration of both respiratory motion and tumor shrinkage in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

Purpose: This thesis investigated two questions for establishing a clinically relevant comparison of the two different modalities (IMRT and proton therapy). The first question was whether or not there are any differences in tumor shrinkage between patients randomized to IMRT versus passively scattered proton therapy (PSPT). Tumor shrinkage is considered a standard measure of radiation therapy response that has been widely used to gauge a short-term progression of radiation therapy. The second question was whether or not there are any differences between the planned dose and 5D dose under the influence of inter- and intra-fractional variations in the patient anatomy for both modalities.

Methods: A total of 45 patients (25 IMRT patients and 20 PSPT patients) were used to quantify the tumor shrinkage in terms of the change of the primary gross tumor volume (GTVp). All patients were randomized to receive either IMRT or PSPT for NSCLC. Treatment planning goals were identical for both groups. All patients received 5 to 8 weekly repeated 4-dimensional computed tomography (4DCT) scans during the course of radiation treatments. The original GTVp contours were propagated to T50 of weekly 4DCT images using deformable image registration and their absolute volumes were measured. Statistical analysis was performed to compare the distribution of tumor shrinkage between the two population groups. In order to investigate the difference between the planned dose and the 5D dose with consideration of both breathing motion and anatomical change, we re-calculated new dose distributions at every phase of the breathing cycle for all available weekly 4DCT data sets which resulted 50 to 80 individual dose calculations for each of the 7 patients presented in this thesis. The newly calculated dose distributions were then deformed and accumulated to T50 of the planning 4DCT for comparison with the planned dose distribution.

Results: At the end of the treatment, both IMRT and PSPT groups showed mean tumor volume reductions of 23.6% ( 19.2%) and 20.9% ( 17.0 %) respectively. Moreover, the mean difference in tumor shrinkage between two groups is 3% along with the corresponding 95% confidence interval, [-8%, 14%]. The rate of tumor shrinkage was highly correlated with the initial tumor volume size. For the planning dose and 5D dose comparison study, all 7 patients showed a mean difference of 1 % in terms of target coverage for both IMRT and PSPT treatment plans.

Conclusions: The results of the tumor shrinkage investigation showed no statistically significant difference in tumor shrinkage between the IMRT and PSPT patients, and the tumor shrinkage between the two modalities is similar based on the 95% confidence interval. From the pilot study of comparing the planned dose with the 5D dose, we found the difference to be only 1%. Overall impression of the two modalities in terms of treatment response as measured by the tumor shrinkage and 5D dose under the influence of anatomical change that were designed under the same protocol (i.e. randomized trial) showed similar result.


IMRT, proton, tumor shrinkage, randomized, cumulative dose, deformable image registration



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