The primary purpose of this study was to assess the practical trade-offs between intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and dual-arc volumetric-modulated arc therapy (DA-VMAT) for locally advanced head and neck cancer (HNC).
For 15 locally advanced HNC data sets, nine-field step-and-shoot IMRT plans and two full-rotation DA-VMAT treatment plans were created in the Pinnacle3 v. 9.0 (Philips Medical Systems, Fitchburg, WI) treatment planning environment and then delivered on a Clinac iX (Varian Medical Systems, Palo Alto, CA) to a cylindrical detector array. The treatment planning goals were organised into four groups based on their importance: (1) spinal cord, brainstem, optical structures; (2) planning target volumes; (3) parotids, mandible, larynx and brachial plexus; and (4) normal tissues.
Compared with IMRT, DA-VMAT plans were of equal plan quality (p>0.05 for each group), able to be delivered in a shorter time (3.1 min vs 8.3 min, p<0.0001), delivered fewer monitor units (on average 28% fewer, p<0.0001) and produced similar delivery accuracy (p>0.05 at γ2%/2mm and γ3%/3mm). However, the VMAT plans took more planning time (28.9 min vs 7.7 min per cycle, p<0.0001) and required more data for a three-dimensional dose (20 times more, p<0.0001).
Nine-field step-and-shoot IMRT and DA-VMAT are both capable of meeting the majority of planning goals for locally advanced HNC. The main trade-offs between the techniques are shorter treatment time for DA-VMAT but longer planning time and the additional resources required for implementation of a new technology. Based on this study, our clinic has incorporated DA-VMAT for locally advanced HNC.
Advances in knowledge
DA-VMAT is a suitable alternative to IMRT for locally advanced HNC.