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Radiother Oncol. 2003 Mar;66(3):313-21.

Stereotactic intensity modulated radiation therapy and inverse treatment planning for tumors of the head and neck region: clinical implementation of the step and shoot approach and first clinical results.

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  • 1Clinical Cooperation Unit Radiation Oncology, German Cancer Research Center (dkfz), Department E0500, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany.



The aim of this analysis is to evaluate the feasibility of inverse treatment planning and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) for head and neck cancer in daily clinical routine. A step and shoot IMRT approach was developed which allows the treatment of large target volumes without the need to use a split beam technique. By using the IMRT approach better protection of different organs at risk in the head and neck region may be achieved and an escalation of the dose in the tumor should be possible. We evaluated the feasibility of the treatment technique and the patient tolerance to the treatment. First clinical results are reported.


Between 1999 and 2002, 48 patients with a carcinoma of the head and neck region were treated with curative intention. All patients were treated in a patient-specific Scotch-Cast mask. Patients who required treatment of the lymph node levels I-VI, were additionally positioned by a vacuum pillow in order to immobilize the upper part of the thorax. For inverse treatment planning, the software module KonRad was used which was integrated into the VIRTUOS planning system. Each treatment plan was verified using quantitative film dosimetry in a head and neck phantom. The step and shoot IMRT technique with a multileaf collimator integrated in a Primus (Siemens) accelerator was used for treatment. For all target volumes the whole target including the lymph nodes were covered completely by the IMRT treatment.


The mean total dose for the target volumes of macroscopic disease ranged between 63.0 and 64.1 Gy. The mean total dose of microscopic disease ranged between 55.2 and 60.1 Gy. The mean percentage of planning target volume receiving <90% of the prescribed dose ranged between 3.0 and 11.5%. For the treatment, the median number of beams was seven (range: five to nine). The time to deliver the treatment ranged between 9 and 18 min. The results of the verification revealed a mean deviation between measured and calculated absolute doses for the 48 patients of 0.1+/-1.4%. Including the phantom verification the IMRT treatment of the patients could be started approximately after five working days. The treatment was well tolerated by all patients. The 2-year actuarial overall survival was 92% and the 2-year actuarial local control rate was 93%. According to the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group (RTOG), no higher acute toxicity than Grade 3 was seen. Observation of the late effects revealed only one transient Grade 4 toxicity of the bone and only four patients had a xerostomia higher than Grade 1.


The use of an inversely-planned and intensity-modulated step and shoot approach is feasible in clinical routine for head and neck tumors. Treatment could be applied as planned and no increased toxicity was found. Compared to other IMRT approaches for the head and neck region the used technique allows the treatment of the primary tumor and the lymph nodes level I-VI with only one intensity modulated treatment volume. The presented technique avoids to match conventional radiotherapy fields and IMRT fields, and therefore, reduce the risk of overdosage or underdosage at the matching line. Compared to conventional treatment techniques IMRT shows advantages in tumor dose and dose at the organs at risk.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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