Knowledge-Based Planning for Robustly Optimized Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy of Head and Neck Cancer Patients

Yihang Xu, Jonathan Cyriac, Mariluz De Ornelas, Elizabeth Bossart, Kyle Padgett, Michael Butkus, Tejan Diwanji, Stuart Samuels, Michael A. Samuels, Nesrin Dogan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: To assess the performance of a proton-specific knowledge-based planning (KBP) model in the creation of robustly optimized intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) plans for treatment of advanced head and neck (HN) cancer patients. Methods: Seventy-three patients diagnosed with advanced HN cancer previously treated with volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) were selected and replanned with robustly optimized IMPT. A proton-specific KBP model, RapidPlanPT (RPP), was generated using 53 patients (20 unilateral cases and 33 bilateral cases). The remaining 20 patients (10 unilateral and 10 bilateral cases) were used for model validation. The model was validated by comparing the target coverage and organ at risk (OAR) sparing in the RPP-generated IMPT plans with those in the expert plans. To account for the robustness of the plan, all uncertainty scenarios were included in the analysis. Results: All the RPP plans generated were clinically acceptable. For unilateral cases, RPP plans had higher CTV_primary V100 (1.59% ± 1.24%) but higher homogeneity index (HI) (0.7 ± 0.73) than had the expert plans. In addition, the RPP plans had better ipsilateral cochlea Dmean (−5.76 ± 6.11 Gy), with marginal to no significant difference between RPP plans and expert plans for all other OAR dosimetric indices. For the bilateral cases, the V100 for all clinical target volumes (CTVs) was higher for the RPP plans than for the expert plans, especially the CTV_primary V100 (5.08% ± 3.02%), with no significant difference in the HI. With respect to OAR sparing, RPP plans had a lower spinal cord Dmax (−5.74 ± 5.72 Gy), lower cochlea Dmean (left, −6.05 ± 4.33 Gy; right, −4.84 ± 4.66 Gy), lower left and right parotid V20Gy (left, −6.45% ± 5.32%; right, −6.92% ± 3.45%), and a lower integral dose (−0.19 ± 0.19 Gy). However, RPP plans increased the Dmax in the body outside of CTV (body-CTV) (1.2 ± 1.43 Gy), indicating a slightly higher hotspot produced by the RPP plans. Conclusion: IMPT plans generated by a broad-scope RPP model have a quality that is, at minimum, comparable with, and at times superior to, that of the expert plans. The RPP plans demonstrated a greater robustness for CTV coverage and better sparing for several OARs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number737901
JournalFrontiers in Oncology
StatePublished - Oct 19 2021


  • advanced head and neck cancer
  • intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT)
  • knowledge-based planning
  • plan quality validation
  • robust optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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