A treatment planning comparison of volumetric modulated arc therapy and proton therapy for a sample of breast cancer patients treated with post-mastectomy radiotherapy

Margaret Hernandez, Rui Zhang, Mary Sanders, Wayne Newhauser


Post-mastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT) has been shown to improve disease-free survival and overall survival for locally advanced breast cancer. However, long term survivors may develop life threatening acute and chronic treatment-related toxicities after radiotherapy, like cardiac toxicity and second cancers. The more advanced techniques like volumetric arc therapy (VMAT), and proton therapy have the potential to improve treatment outcome by constraining doses to radiosensitive organs, but evidence from outcome study will not be available until years or decades later. Furthermore, the literature is largely incomplete regarding systematic comparison of potential benefits of advanced technologies for PMRT. The purpose of this study was to compare proton therapy, both passively scattered (PSPT) and intensity modulated (IMPT), to VMAT and develop an evidence-based rationale for selecting a treatment modality for left sided post-mastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT) patients. Eight left-sided PMRT patients previously treated with VMAT were included in this study. Planning target volumes (PTV) included the chest wall and regional lymph nodes. PSPT and IMPT plans were created using a commercial proton treatment planning system. The resulting plans were compared to the corresponding VMAT on the basis of dosimetric and radiobiological endpoints. The uncertainties in risk from proton range, set-up errors, and dose-response models were also evaluated. All modalities produced clinically acceptable treatment plans with nearly 100% tumor control probability. Both proton techniques provided significantly lower normal tissue complication probability values for the heart (p < 0.02) and lung (p < 0.001). Patient-averaged second cancer risk for the contralateral breast and lungs were also significantly lower (p < 0.001) with protons compared to VMAT. The findings of this study were upheld by the uncertainty analysis. All three techniques provided acceptable PMRT treatment plans. Proton therapy showed significant advantages in terms of predicted normal tissue sparing compared to VMAT, taking into account possible uncertainties.


Breast Cancer, Post-Mastectomy, Volumetric Modulated Arc Therapy, Proton Therapy

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14319/jpt.11.9

Copyright (c) 2016 Rui Zhang, Margaret Hernandez, Mary Ella Sanders, Wayne Newhauser

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