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Licentiate thesis: Radiation Therapy of Targets in the Upper Abdomen with Photon- or Scanned Proton-beams
  Thesis defense

Wednesday 31 May 2017
from 09:00 to 12:00
at Byggnad R8 ( CCK Lecture Hall )
Speaker : Gracinda Mondlane (Stockholm University, Department of Physics)
Abstract : Recently, there has been an increase in the number of proton beam therapy (PBT) centers operating worldwide. For certain cases, proton beams have been shown to provide dosimetric and radiobiological advantages when used for cancer treatment, compared to the regular photon-beam based treatments. Under ideal circumstances, the dose given to the tissues surrounding a target can be reduced with PBT. The risk for side effects following treatment is then expected to decrease. Until present, mainly stationary targets, e.g. targets in the brain, have been treated with PBT. There is currently a growing interest to treat also target volumes in other parts of the body with PBT. However, there are sources of uncertainties, which must be more carefully considered when PBT is used, especially for PBT carried out with scanned proton beams. PBT is more sensitive to anatomical changes, e.g. organ motion or a variable gas content in the intestines, which requires that special precautions are taken prior to treating new tumour sites. In photon beam radiotherapy (RT) of moving targets, the main consequence of organ motion is the loss of sharpness of the dose gradients (dose smearing). When scanned proton beams are used, dose deformation caused by the Zluctuations in the proton beam range, due to varying tissue heterogeneities (e.g., the ribs moving in and out of the beam path) and the so-called interplay effect, can be expected to impact the dose distributions in addition to the dose smearing. The dosimetric uncertainties, if not accounted for, may cause the planned and accurately calculated dose distribution to be distorted, compromising the main goal of RT of achieving the maximal local disease control while accepting certain risks for normal tissue complications. Currently there is a lack of clinical follow-up data regarding the outcome of PBT for different tumour sites, in particular for extra-cranial tumour sites in moving organs. On the other hand, the use of photon beams for this kind of cancer treatment is well-established. A treatment planning comparison between RT carried out with photons and with protons may provide guidelines for when PBT could be more suitable. New clinical applications of particle beams in cancer therapy can also be transferred from photon-beam treatments, for which there is a vast clinical experience. The evaluation of the different uncertainties inZluencing RT of different tumour sites carried out with photon- and with proton-beams, will hopefully create an understanding for the feasibility of treating cancers with scanned proton beams instead of photon beams. The comparison of two distinct RT modalities is normally performed by studying the dosimetric values obtained from the dose volume histograms (DVH). However, in dosimetric evaluations, the outcome of the treatments in terms of local disease control and healthy tissue toxicity are not estimated. In this regard, radiobiological models can be an indispensable tool for the prediction of the outcome of cancer treatments performed with different types of ionising radiation. In this thesis, different factors that should be taken into consideration in PBT, for treatments inZluenced by organ motion and density heterogeneities, were studied and their importance quantiZied. This thesis consists of three published articles (Papers I, II, and III). In these reports, the dosimetric and biological evaluations of photon-beam and scanned proton-beam RT were performed and the results obtained were compared. The studies were made for two tumour sites inZluenced by organ motion and density changes, gastric cancer (GC) and liver metastases. For the GC cases, the impact of changes in tissue density, resulting from variable gas content (which can be observed inter-fractionally), was also studied. In this thesis, both conventional fractionations (implemented in the planning for GC treatments) and hypofractionated regimens (implemented in the planning for the liver metastases cases) were considered. It was found that proton therapy provided the possibility to reduce the irradiations of the normal tissue located near the target volumes, compared to photon beam RT. However, the effects of density changes were found to be more pronounced in the plans for PBT. Furthermore, with proton beams, the reduction of the integral dose given to the OARs resulted in reduced risks of treatment-induced secondary malignancies.

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