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Discrepancies in volume calculations between different radiotherapy treatment planning systems

  • T. Ackerly
  • J. Andrews
  • D. Ball
  • M. Guerrieri
  • B. Healy
  • I. Williams
Technical Note

Abstract

It has been determined that, contrary to expectation, there is a clinically significant variation in the volume calculations of different RTPS (RadiotherapyTreatmentPlanningSystem) for identical contours. The situation was investigated prior to a multi-centre trial to determine whether tumour volume is an independent prognostic factor in NSCLC (nonsmall cell lung cancer) and included four of the commercially available RTPS. The four RTPS tested were, Theraplan Plus V3.0, Cadplan V6.2, Focus V2.6 and ADAC V3.0. Five randomly chosen clinical target related volumes (3 GTVs, one PTV and one CTV) from the trial database originally marked on the Cadplan system were transferred to the other four systems and the resulting volumes were calculated. It was found that Cadplan consistently underestimated the volume relative to the other three systems by 6–12%. This systematic underestimation was found to be caused by different assumptions made by the Cadplan system about the axial outer slice extension of the volume. Cadplan truncates the volume, while the other three systems extrapolate it by half the slice thickness at each end. A short program was written to apply the same method of volume extension to the Cadplan volume that is utilised by the other systems. This produced calculated volumes that were within ±1.0% of the average of the volumes calculated by the other three planning systems, and the maximum deviation from the average for any planning system was then reduced to 1.5%. This program was implemented at all participating trial centres utilising Cadplan, thus reducing the intersystem variability to a negligible factor in comparison to the estimates of inter-physician variation. This unexpected finding has significant implications for the validity of multi-centre trials using dose volume histograms, and indeed the adoption of any clinical protocol employing dose volume histogram constraints derived from experience at another centre employing a different RTPS.

Key words

radiotherapy treatment planning DVH clinical trials 

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Copyright information

© Australasian College of Physical Scientists and Engineers in Medicine 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Ackerly
    • 1
  • J. Andrews
    • 1
  • D. Ball
    • 1
  • M. Guerrieri
    • 1
  • B. Healy
    • 2
  • I. Williams
    • 1
  1. 1.Physical Sciences DepartmentPeter MacCallum Cancer Institute Locked Bag 1Melbourne
  2. 2.Queensland Radium InstituteBrisbaneAustralia

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