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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2006 Nov 1;66(3):654-62.

Intensity-modulated radiotherapy improves lymph node coverage and dose to critical structures compared with three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy in clinically localized prostate cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of California-San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA.



The aim of this study was to quantify gains in lymph node coverage and critical structure dose reduction for whole-pelvis (WP) and extended-field (EF) radiotherapy in prostate cancer using intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) compared with three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) for the first treatment phase of 45 Gy in the concurrent treatment of lymph nodes and prostate.


From January to August 2005, 35 patients with localized prostate cancer were treated with pelvic IMRT; 7 had nodes defined up to L5-S1 (Group 1), and 28 had nodes defined above L5-S1 (Group 2). Each patient had 2 plans retrospectively generated: 1 WP 3DCRT plan using bony landmarks, and 1 EF 3DCRT plan to cover the vascular defined volumes. Dose-volume histograms for the lymph nodes, rectum, bladder, small bowel, and penile bulb were compared by group.


For Group 1, WP 3DCRT missed 25% of pelvic nodes with the prescribed dose 45 Gy and missed 18% with the 95% prescribed dose 42.75 Gy, whereas WP IMRT achieved V(45 Gy) = 98% and V(42.75 Gy) = 100%. Compared with WP 3DCRT, IMRT reduced bladder V(45 Gy) by 78%, rectum V(45 Gy) by 48%, and small bowel V(45 Gy) by 232 cm3. EF 3DCRT achieved 95% coverage of nodes for all patients at high cost to critical structures. For Group 2, IMRT decreased bladder V(45 Gy) by 90%, rectum V(45 Gy) by 54% and small bowel V(45 Gy) by 455 cm3 compared with EF 3DCRT.


In this study WP 3DCRT missed a significant percentage of pelvic nodes. Although EF 3DCRT achieved 95% pelvic nodal coverage, it increased critical structure doses. IMRT improved pelvic nodal coverage while decreasing dose to bladder, rectum, small bowel, and penile bulb. For patients with extended node involvement, IMRT especially decreases small bowel dose.

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