Article Abstract

Statistical control process to compare and rank treatment plans in radiation oncology: impact of heterogeneity correction on treatment planning in lung cancer

Authors: Abdulhamid Chaikh, Jacques Balosso


Background: This study proposes a statistical process to compare different treatment plans issued from different irradiation techniques or different treatment phases. This approach aims to provide arguments for discussion about the impact on clinical results of any condition able to significantly alter dosimetric or ballistic related data.
Methods: The principles of the statistical investigation are presented in the framework of a clinical example based on 40 fields of radiotherapy for lung cancers. Two treatment plans were generated for each patient making a change of dose distribution due to variation of lung density correction. The data from 2D gamma index (γ) including the pixels having γ≤1 were used to determine the capability index (Cp) and the acceptability index (Cpk) of the process. To measure the strength of the relationship between the γ passing rates and the Cp and Cpk indices, the Spearman’s rank non-parametric test was used to calculate P values.
Results: The comparison between reference and tested plans showed that 95% of pixels have γ≤1 with criteria (6%, 6 mm). The values of the Cp and Cpk indices were lower than one showing a significant dose difference. The data showed a strong correlation between γ passing rates and the indices with P>0.8.
Conclusions: The statistical analysis using Cp and Cpk, show the significance of dose differences resulting from two plans in radiotherapy. These indices can be used for adaptive radiotherapy to measure the difference between initial plan and daily delivered plan. The significant changes of dose distribution could raise the question about the continuity to treat the patient with the initial plan or the need for adjustments.