Dosimetric comparison of intensity-modulated radiation therapy for early-stage glottic cancers with and without the air cavity in the planning target volume

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For early-stage glottic cancers, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has been shown to have comparable local control to 3D-conformal radiotherapy with the advantage of decreased dose to the carotid arteries. The planning target volume (PTV) for early glottic cancers typically includes the entire larynx, plus a 3 to 5 mm uniform margin. The air cavity within the larynx creates a challenge for the inverse optimization process as the software attempts to “build up” dose within the air. This unnecessary attempt at dose build-up in air can lead to hot spots within the rest of the PTV and surrounding soft tissue. We hypothesized that removal of the air from the PTV would decrease hot spots and allow for a more homogeneous plan while still maintaining adequate coverage of the PTV. We analyzed 20 consecutive patients with early-stage glottic cancer, T1-2N0, who received IMRT at our institution from April 2015 to December 2016. Each patient received 63 to 65.25 Gy in 2.25 Gy per fraction. Two plans were created for each case: one in which the PTV included the laryngeal air cavity and one in which the air cavity was subtracted from the PTV to create a new PTV-air structure. Dosimetric variables were collected for PTV-air structure from both IMRT plans, including V100%, D98% D2%, and D0.2%. Dosimetric variables for spinal cord and the carotid arteries were also recorded. Homogeneity index (HI) defined as D98/D2 was calculated. Two-sided t-tests were used to compare dosimetric variables. The median PTV volume was 69.9 cc (standard deviation [SD] ± 28.7 cc) and the median air cavity volume removed was 11.0 cc (SD ± 3.4 cc). A 2-sided t-test revealed a statistically significant decrease in max dose (112.7% vs 108.8%, p value = 0.0002) and improvement of HI (0.93 vs 0.91, p value = 0.0023) for the PTV air in the IMRT plan optimized for PTV air, which had air excluded, compared to the IMRT plan optimized for PTV with air included. There was no significant worsening of PTV-air coverage or significant increase in doses to the organs at risk (OARs). The removal of the air cavity from the PTV for early-stage glottic cancers does not compromise PTV coverage or sparing of OARs and can result in a more homogeneous IMRT plan. A more homogeneous plan has the potential to reduce treatment morbidity, although further study is warranted to investigate the clinical impact of air cavity removal from the PTV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-408
Number of pages4
JournalMedical Dosimetry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Air cavity
  • Carotid-sparing IMRT
  • Glottic cancer
  • Head and neck cancer
  • IMRT
  • Larynx cancer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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