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Radiat Oncol. 2013 Jun 15;8:144. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-8-144.

An in-silico comparison of proton beam and IMRT for postoperative radiotherapy in completely resected stage IIIA non-small cell lung cancer.



Post-operative radiotherapy (PORT) for stage IIIA completely-resected non-small cell lung cancer (CR-NSCLC) has been shown to improve local control; however, it is unclear that this translates into a survival benefit. One explanation is that the detrimental effect of PORT on critical organs at risk (OARs) negates its benefit. This study reports an in-silico comparative analysis of passive scattering proton therapy (PSPT)- and intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) with intensity modulated photon beam radiotherapy (IMRT) PORT.


The computed tomography treatment planning scans of ten patients with pathologic stage IIIA CR-NSCLC treated with IMRT were used. IMRT, PSPT, and IMPT plans were generated and analyzed for dosimetric endpoints. The proton plans were constructed with two or three beams. All plans were optimized to deliver 50.4 Gy(RBE) in 1.8 Gy(RBE) fractions to the target volume.


IMPT leads to statistically significant reductions in maximum spinal cord, mean lung dose, lung volumes treated to 5, 10, 20, and 30 Gy (V5, V10, V20, V30), mean heart dose, and heart volume treated to 40 Gy (V40), when compared with IMRT or PSPT. PSPT reduced lung V5 but increased lung V20, V30, and heart and esophagus V40.


IMPT demonstrates a large decrease in dose to all OARs. PSPT, while reducing the low-dose lung bath, increases the volume of lung receiving high dose. Reductions are seen in dosimetric parameters predictive of radiation pneumonitis and cardiac morbidity and mortality. This reduction may correlate with a decrease in dose-limiting toxicity and improve the therapeutic ratio.

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