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New target volume delineation and PTV strategies to further personalise radiotherapy

  • Bernstein, David
  • Taylor, Alexandra
  • Nill, Simeon
  • Oelfke, Uwe
Published Article
Physics in Medicine and Biology
IOP Publishing
Publication Date
Feb 25, 2021
DOI: 10.1088/1361-6560/abe029
PMID: 33498018
PMCID: PMC8208617
PubMed Central
  • Paper


Target volume delineation uncertainty (DU) is arguably one of the largest geometric uncertainties in radiotherapy that are accounted for using planning target volume (PTV) margins. Geometrical uncertainties are typically derived from a limited sample of patients. Consequently, the resultant margins are not tailored to individual patients. Furthermore, standard PTVs cannot account for arbitrary anisotropic extensions of the target volume originating from DU. We address these limitations by developing a method to measure DU for each patient by a single clinician. This information is then used to produce PTVs that account for each patient’s unique DU, including any required anisotropic component. We do so using a two-step uncertainty evaluation strategy that does not rely on multiple samples of data to capture the DU of a patient’s gross tumour volume (GTV) or clinical target volume. For simplicity, we will just refer to the GTV in the following. First, the clinician delineates two contour sets; one which bounds all voxels believed to have a probability of belonging to the GTV of 1, while the second includes all voxels with a probability greater than 0. Next, one specifies a probability density function for the true GTV boundary position within the boundaries of the two contours. Finally, a patient-specific PTV, designed to account for all systematic errors, is created using this information along with measurements of the other systematic errors. Clinical examples indicate that our margin strategy can produce significantly smaller PTVs than the van Herk margin recipe. Our new radiotherapy target delineation concept allows DUs to be quantified by the clinician for each patient, leading to PTV margins that are tailored to each unique patient, thus paving the way to a greater personalisation of radiotherapy.

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