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Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013 Nov 15;87(4):676-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ijrobp.2013.07.040. Epub 2013 Sep 10.

Parotid glands dose-effect relationships based on their actually delivered doses: implications for adaptive replanning in radiation therapy of head-and-neck cancer.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.



Doses actually delivered to the parotid glands during radiation therapy often exceed planned doses. We hypothesized that the delivered doses correlate better with parotid salivary output than the planned doses, used in all previous studies, and that determining these correlations will help make decisions regarding adaptive radiation therapy (ART) aimed at reducing the delivered doses.


In this prospective study, oropharyngeal cancer patients treated definitively with chemoirradiation underwent daily cone-beam computed tomography (CBCT) with clinical setup alignment based on the C2 posterior edge. Parotid glands in the CBCTs were aligned by deformable registration to calculate cumulative delivered doses. Stimulated salivary flow rates were measured separately from each parotid gland pretherapy and periodically posttherapy.


Thirty-six parotid glands of 18 patients were analyzed. Average mean planned doses was 32 Gy, and differences from planned to delivered mean gland doses were -4.9 to +8.4 Gy, median difference +2.2 Gy in glands in which delivered doses increased relative to planned. Both planned and delivered mean doses were significantly correlated with posttreatment salivary outputs at almost all posttherapy time points, without statistically significant differences in the correlations. Large dispersions (on average, SD 3.6 Gy) characterized the dose-effect relationships for both. The differences between the cumulative delivered doses and planned doses were evident at first fraction (r=.92, P<.0001) because of complex setup deviations (eg, rotations and neck articulations), uncorrected by the translational clinical alignments.


After daily translational setup corrections, differences between planned and delivered doses in most glands were small relative to the SDs of the dose-saliva data, suggesting that ART is not likely to gain measurable salivary output improvement in most cases. These differences were observed at first treatment, indicating potential benefit for more complex setup corrections or adaptive interventions in the minority of patients with large deviations detected early by CBCT.

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