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1.  Hypofractionated radiotherapy for prostate cancer 
In the last few years, hypofractionated external beam radiotherapy has gained increasing popularity for prostate cancer treatment, since sufficient evidence exists that prostate cancer has a low α/β ratio, lower than the one of the surrounding organs at risk and thus there is a potential therapeutic benefit of using larger fractionated single doses. Apart from the therapeutic rationale there are advantages such as saving treatment time and medical resources and thereby improving patient’s convenience. While older trials showed unsatisfactory results in both standard and hypofractionated arm due to insufficient radiation doses and non-standard contouring of target volumes, contemporary randomized studies have reported on encouraging results of tumor control mostly without an increase of relevant side effects, especially late toxicity. Aim of this review is to give a detailed analysis of relevant, recently published clinical trials with special focus on rationale for hypofractionation and different therapy settings.
doi:10.1186/s13014-014-0275-6
PMCID: PMC4273481  PMID: 25480014
2.  Safety and efficacy of stereotactic body radiotherapy as primary treatment for vertebral metastases: a multi-institutional analysis 
Purpose
To evaluate patient selection criteria, methodology, safety and clinical outcomes of stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for treatment of vertebral metastases.
Materials and methods
Eight centers from the United States (n = 5), Canada (n = 2) and Germany (n = 1) participated in the retrospective study and analyzed 301 patients with 387 vertebral metastases. No patient had been exposed to prior radiation at the treatment site. All patients were treated with linac-based SBRT using cone-beam CT image-guidance and online correction of set-up errors in six degrees of freedom.
Results
387 spinal metastases were treated and the median follow-up was 11.8 months. The median number of consecutive vertebrae treated in a single volume was one (range, 1-6), and the median total dose was 24 Gy (range 8-60 Gy) in 3 fractions (range 1-20). The median EQD210 was 38 Gy (range 12-81 Gy). Median overall survival (OS) was 19.5 months and local tumor control (LC) at two years was 83.9%. On multivariate analysis for OS, male sex (p < 0.001; HR = 0.44), performance status <90 (p < 0.001; HR = 0.46), presence of visceral metastases (p = 0.007; HR = 0.50), uncontrolled systemic disease (p = 0.007; HR = 0.45), >1 vertebra treated with SBRT (p = 0.04; HR = 0.62) were correlated with worse outcomes. For LC, an interval between primary diagnosis of cancer and SBRT of ≤30 months (p = 0.01; HR = 0.27) and histology of primary disease (NSCLC, renal cell cancer, melanoma, other) (p = 0.01; HR = 0.21) were correlated with worse LC. Vertebral compression fractures progressed and developed de novo in 4.1% and 3.6%, respectively. Other adverse events were rare and no radiation induced myelopathy reported.
Conclusions
This multi-institutional cohort study reports high rates of efficacy with spine SBRT. At this time the optimal fractionation within high dose practice is unknown.
doi:10.1186/s13014-014-0226-2
PMCID: PMC4205292  PMID: 25319530
3.  Modeling Local Control After Hypofractionated Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy for Stage I Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Report From the Elekta Collaborative Lung Research Group 
International journal of radiation oncology, biology, physics  2012;84(3):10.1016/j.ijrobp.2012.04.040.
Purpose
Hypofractionated stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) has emerged as an effective treatment option for early-stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Using data collected by the Elekta Lung Research Group, we generated a tumor control probability (TCP) model that predicts 2-year local control after SBRT as a function of biologically effective dose (BED) and tumor size.
Methods and Materials
We formulated our TCP model as follows: TCP =e[BED10 – c * L – TCD50]/k ÷ (1 + e[BED10 – c * L – TCD50]/k), where BED10 is the biologically effective SBRT dose, c is a constant, L is the maximal tumor diameter, and TCD50 and k are parameters that define the shape of the TCP curve. Least-squares optimization with a bootstrap resampling approach was used to identify the values of c, TCD50, and k that provided the best fit with observed actuarial 2-year local control rates.
Results
Data from 504 NSCLC tumors treated with a variety of SBRT schedules were available. The mean follow-up time was 18.4 months, and 26 local recurrences were observed. The optimal values for c, TCD50, and k were 10 Gy/cm, 0 Gy, and 31 Gy, respectively. Thus, size-adjusted BED (sBED) may be defined as BED minus 10 times the tumor diameter (in centimeters). Our TCP model indicates that sBED values of 44 Gy, 69 Gy, and 93 Gy provide 80%, 90%, and 95% chances of tumor control at 2 years, respectively. When patients were grouped by sBED, the model accurately characterized the relationship between sBED and actuarial 2-year local control (r=0.847, P=.008).
Conclusion
We have developed a TCP model that predicts 2-year local control rate after hypofractionated SBRT for early-stage NSCLC as a function of biologically effective dose and tumor diameter. Further testing of this model with additional datasets is warranted.
doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2012.04.040
PMCID: PMC3867931  PMID: 22999272
4.  A multi-national report on methods for institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery 
Background
Stereotactic body radiotherapy and radiosurgery are rapidly emerging treatment options for both malignant and benign spine tumors. Proper institutional credentialing by physicians and medical physicists as well as other personnel is important for the safe and effective adoption of spine radiosurgery. This article describes the methods for institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery at seven highly experienced international institutions.
Methods
All institutions (n = 7) are members of the Elekta Spine Radiosurgery Research Consortium and have a dedicated research and clinical focus on image-guided spine radiosurgery. A questionnaire consisting of 24 items covering various aspects of institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery was completed by all seven institutions.
Results
Close agreement was observed in most aspects of spine radiosurgery credentialing at each institution. A formal credentialing process was believed to be important for the implementation of a new spine radiosurgery program, for patient safety and clinical outcomes. One institution has a written policy specific for spine radiosurgery credentialing, but all have an undocumented credentialing system in place. All institutions rely upon an in-house proctoring system for the training of both physicians and medical physicists. Four institutions require physicians and medical physicists to attend corporate sponsored training. Two of these 4 institutions also require attendance at a non-corporate sponsored academic society radiosurgery course. Corporate as well as non-corporate sponsored training were believed to be complimentary and both important for training. In 5 centers, all cases must be reviewed at a multidisciplinary conference prior to radiosurgery treatment. At 3 centers, neurosurgeons are not required to be involved in all cases if there is no evidence for instability or spinal cord compression. Backup physicians and physicists are required at only 1 institution, but all institutions have more than one specialist trained to perform spine radiosurgery. All centers believed that credentialing should also be device specific, and all believed that professional societies should formulate guidelines for institutions on the requirements for spine radiosurgery credentialing. Finally, in 4 institutions radiation therapists were required to attend corporate-sponsored device specific training for credentialing, and in only 1 institution were radiation therapists required to also attend academic society training for credentialing.
Conclusions
This study represents the first multi-national report of the current practice of institutional credentialing for spine radiosurgery. Key methodologies for safe implementation and credentialing of spine radiosurgery have been identified. There is strong agreement among experienced centers that credentialing is an important component of the safe and effective implementation of a spine radiosurgery program.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-8-158
PMCID: PMC3702432  PMID: 23806078
Spine Radiosurgery; Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy; Credentialing; Spine Tumors
5.  Stereotactic body radiation therapy in the re-irradiation situation – a review 
Although locoregional relapse is frequent after definitive radiotherapy (RT) or multimodal treatments, re-irradiation is only performed in few patients even in palliative settings like e.g. vertebral metastasis. This is most due to concern about potentially severe complications, especially when large volumes are exposed to re-irradiation. With technological advancements in treatment planning the interest in re-irradiation as a local treatment approach has been reinforced. Recently, several studies reported re-irradiation for spinal metastases using SBRT with promising local and symptom control rates and simultaneously low rates of toxicity. These early data consistently indicate that SBRT is a safe and effective treatment modality in this clinical situation, where other treatment alternatives are rare. Similarly, good results have been shown for SBRT in the re-irradiation of head and neck tumors. Despite severe late adverse effects were reported in several studies, especially after single fraction doses >10 Gy, they appear less frequently compared to conventional radiotherapy. Few studies with small patient numbers have been published on SBRT re-irradiation for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Overall survival (OS) is limited by systemic progression and seems to depend particularly on patient selection. SBRT re-irradiation after primary SBRT should not be practiced in centrally located tumors due to high risk of severe toxicity. Only limited data is available for SBRT re-irradiation of pelvic tumors: feasibility and acceptable toxicity has been described, suggesting SBRT as a complementary treatment modality for local symptom control.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-8-7
PMCID: PMC3552718  PMID: 23289496
Stereotactic body radiotherapy; Radiosurgery; Re-irradiation; Locoregional recurrence; Normal tissue tolerance; Spinal metastases; NSCLC; Head and neck cancer; Pelvic tumors
6.  Fractionated radiosurgery for painful spinal metastases: DOSIS - a phase II trial 
BMC Cancer  2012;12:530.
Background
One third of all cancer patients will develop bone metastases and the vertebral column is involved in approximately 70% of these patients. Conventional radiotherapy with of 1–10 fractions and total doses of 8-30 Gy is the current standard for painful vertebral metastases; however, the median pain response is short with 3–6 months and local tumor control is limited with these rather low irradiation doses. Recent advances in radiotherapy technology – intensity modulated radiotherapy for generation of highly conformal dose distributions and image-guidance for precise treatment delivery – have made dose-escalated radiosurgery of spinal metastases possible and early results of pain and local tumor control are promising. The current study will investigate efficacy and safety of radiosurgery for painful vertebral metastases and three characteristics will distinguish this study. 1) A prognostic score for overall survival will be used for selection of patients with longer life expectancy to allow for analysis of long-term efficacy and safety. 2) Fractionated radiosurgery will be performed with the number of treatment fractions adjusted to either good (10 fractions) or intermediate (5 fractions) life expectancy. Fractionation will allow inclusion of tumors immediately abutting the spinal cord due to higher biological effective doses at the tumor - spinal cord interface compared to single fraction treatment. 3) Dose intensification will be performed in the involved parts of the vertebrae only, while uninvolved parts are treated with conventional doses using the simultaneous integrated boost concept.
Methods / Design
It is the study hypothesis that hypo-fractionated image-guided radiosurgery significantly improves pain relief compared to historic data of conventionally fractionated radiotherapy. Primary endpoint is pain response 3 months after radiosurgery, which is defined as pain reduction of ≥ 2 points at the treated vertebral site on the 0 to 10 Visual Analogue Scale. 60 patients will be included into this two-centre phase II trial.
Conclusions
Results of this study will refine the methods of patient selection, target volume definition, treatment planning and delivery as well as quality assurance for radiosurgery. It is the intention of this study to form the basis for a future randomized controlled trial comparing conventional radiotherapy with fractionated radiosurgery for palliation of painful vertebral metastases.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT01594892
doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-530
PMCID: PMC3522547  PMID: 23164174
Phase II trial; Spinal metastasis; Pain; Radiosurgery; Stereotactic body radiotherapy
7.  Radiotherapy alone for stage I-III low grade follicular lymphoma: long-term outcome and comparison of extended field and total nodal irradiation 
Background
To analyze long-term results of radiotherapy alone for stage I-III low grade follicular lymphoma and to compare outcome after extended field irradiation (EFI) and total nodal irradiation (TNI).
Methods and materials
Between 1982 and 2007, 107 patients were treated with radiotherapy alone for low grade follicular lymphoma at Ann Arbor stage I (n = 50), II (n = 36) and III (n = 21); 48 and 59 patients were treated with EFI and TNI, respectively. The median total dose in the first treatment series of the diaphragmatic side with larger lymphoma burden was 38 Gy (25 Gy – 50 Gy) and after an interval of median 30 days, a total dose of 28 Gy (12.6 Gy – 45 Gy) was given in the second treatment series completing TNI.
Results
After a median follow-up of 14 years for living patients, 10-years and 15-years overall survival (OS) were 64% and 50%, respectively. Survival was not significantly different between stages I, II and III. TNI and EFI resulted in 15-years OS of 65% and 34% but patients treated with TNI were younger, had better performance status and higher stage of disease compared to patients treated with EFI. In multivariate analysis, only age at diagnosis (p < 0.001, relative risk [RR] 1.06) and Karnofsky performance status (p = 0.04, RR = 0.96) were significantly correlated with OS. Freedom from progression (FFP) was 58% and 56% after 10-years and 15-years, respectively. Recurrences outside the irradiated volume were significantly reduced after TNI compared to EFI; however, increased rates of in-field recurrences and extra-nodal out-of-field recurrence counterbalanced this effect resulting in no significant difference in FFP between TNI and EFI. In univariate analysis, FFP was significantly improved in stage I compared to stage II but no differences were observed between stages I/II and stage III. In multivariate analysis no patient or treatment parameter was correlated with FFP. Acute toxicity was significantly increased after TNI compared to EFI with a trend to increased late toxicity as well.
Conclusions
Radiotherapy alone for stage I and II follicular lymphoma resulted in long-term OS with high rates of disease control; no benefit of TNI over EFI was observed. For stage III follicular lymphoma, TNI achieved promising OS and FFP and should be considered as a potentially curative treatment option.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-103
PMCID: PMC3432005  PMID: 22726938
Follicular lymphoma; Total nodal irradiation; Extended field irradiation
8.  Accuracy and inter-observer variability of 3D versus 4D cone-beam CT based image-guidance in SBRT for lung tumors 
Background
To analyze the accuracy and inter-observer variability of image-guidance (IG) using 3D or 4D cone-beam CT (CBCT) technology in stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) for lung tumors.
Materials and methods
Twenty-one consecutive patients treated with image-guided SBRT for primary and secondary lung tumors were basis for this study. A respiration correlated 4D-CT and planning contours served as reference for all IG techniques. Three IG techniques were performed independently by three radiation oncologists (ROs) and three radiotherapy technicians (RTTs). Image-guidance using respiration correlated 4D-CBCT (IG-4D) with automatic registration of the planning 4D-CT and the verification 4D-CBCT was considered gold-standard. Results were compared with two IG techniques using 3D-CBCT: 1) manual registration of the planning internal target volume (ITV) contour and the motion blurred tumor in the 3D-CBCT (IG-ITV); 2) automatic registration of the planning reference CT image and the verification 3D-CBCT (IG-3D). Image quality of 3D-CBCT and 4D-CBCT images was scored on a scale of 1–3, with 1 being best and 3 being worst quality for visual verification of the IGRT results.
Results
Image quality was scored significantly worse for 3D-CBCT compared to 4D-CBCT: the worst score of 3 was given in 19 % and 7.1 % observations, respectively. Significant differences in target localization were observed between 4D-CBCT and 3D-CBCT based IG: compared to the reference of IG-4D, tumor positions differed by 1.9 mm ± 0.9 mm (3D vector) on average using IG-ITV and by 3.6 mm ± 3.2 mm using IG-3D; results of IG-ITV were significantly closer to the reference IG-4D compared to IG-3D. Differences between the 4D-CBCT and 3D-CBCT techniques increased significantly with larger motion amplitude of the tumor; analogously, differences increased with worse 3D-CBCT image quality scores. Inter-observer variability was largest in SI direction and was significantly larger in IG using 3D-CBCT compared to 4D-CBCT: 0.6 mm versus 1.5 mm (one standard deviation). Inter-observer variability was not different between the three ROs compared to the three RTTs.
Conclusions
Respiration correlated 4D-CBCT improves the accuracy of image-guidance by more precise target localization in the presence of breathing induced target motion and by reduced inter-observer variability.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-81
PMCID: PMC3484063  PMID: 22682767
Lung cancer; Image-guidance; Cone-beam CT; Inter-observer variability; Respiration correlated imaging
9.  Dosimetric consequences of translational and rotational errors in frame-less image-guided radiosurgery 
Background
To investigate geometric and dosimetric accuracy of frame-less image-guided radiosurgery (IG-RS) for brain metastases.
Methods and materials
Single fraction IG-RS was practiced in 72 patients with 98 brain metastases. Patient positioning and immobilization used either double- (n = 71) or single-layer (n = 27) thermoplastic masks. Pre-treatment set-up errors (n = 98) were evaluated with cone-beam CT (CBCT) based image-guidance (IG) and were corrected in six degrees of freedom without an action level. CBCT imaging after treatment measured intra-fractional errors (n = 64). Pre- and post-treatment errors were simulated in the treatment planning system and target coverage and dose conformity were evaluated. Three scenarios of 0 mm, 1 mm and 2 mm GTV-to-PTV (gross tumor volume, planning target volume) safety margins (SM) were simulated.
Results
Errors prior to IG were 3.9 mm ± 1.7 mm (3D vector) and the maximum rotational error was 1.7° ± 0.8° on average. The post-treatment 3D error was 0.9 mm ± 0.6 mm. No differences between double- and single-layer masks were observed. Intra-fractional errors were significantly correlated with the total treatment time with 0.7mm±0.5mm and 1.2mm±0.7mm for treatment times ≤23 minutes and >23 minutes (p<0.01), respectively. Simulation of RS without image-guidance reduced target coverage and conformity to 75% ± 19% and 60% ± 25% of planned values. Each 3D set-up error of 1 mm decreased target coverage and dose conformity by 6% and 10% on average, respectively, with a large inter-patient variability. Pre-treatment correction of translations only but not rotations did not affect target coverage and conformity. Post-treatment errors reduced target coverage by >5% in 14% of the patients. A 1 mm safety margin fully compensated intra-fractional patient motion.
Conclusions
IG-RS with online correction of translational errors achieves high geometric and dosimetric accuracy. Intra-fractional errors decrease target coverage and conformity unless compensated with appropriate safety margins.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-63
PMCID: PMC3441228  PMID: 22531060
Radiosurgery; Frame-less; Frame-based; Stereotactic; Image-guidance
10.  Clinical practice of image-guided spine radiosurgery - results from an international research consortium 
Background
Spinal radiosurgery is a quickly evolving technique in the radiotherapy and neurosurgical communities. However, the methods of spine radiosurgery have not been standardized. This article describes the results of a survey about the methods of spine radiosurgery at five international institutions.
Methods
All institutions are members of the Elekta Spine Radiosurgery Research Consortium and have a dedicated research and clinical focus on image-guided radiosurgery. The questionnaire consisted of 75 items covering all major steps of spine radiosurgery.
Results
Strong agreement in the methods of spine radiosurgery was observed. In particular, similarities were observed with safety and quality assurance playing an important role in the methods of all institutions, cooperation between neurosurgeons and radiation oncologists in case selection, dedicated imaging for target- and organ-at-risk delineation, application of proper safety margins for the target volume and organs-at-risk, conformal planning and precise image-guided treatment delivery, and close clinical and radiological follow-up. In contrast, three major areas of uncertainty and disagreement were identified: 1) Indications and contra-indications for spine radiosurgery; 2) treatment dose and fractionation and 3) tolerance dose of the spinal cord.
Conclusions
Results of this study reflect the current practice of spine radiosurgery in large academic centers. Despite close agreement was observed in many steps of spine radiosurgery, further research in form of retrospective and especially prospective studies is required to refine the details of spinal radiosurgery in terms of safety and efficacy.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-6-172
PMCID: PMC3286433  PMID: 22172095
vertebral metastases; spine radiosurgery; methods; questionnaire
12.  Semi-robotic 6 degree of freedom positioning for intracranial high precision radiotherapy; first phantom and clinical results 
Background
To introduce a novel method of patient positioning for high precision intracranial radiotherapy.
Methods
An infrared(IR)-array, reproducibly attached to the patient via a vacuum-mouthpiece(vMP) and connected to the table via a 6 degree-of-freedom(DoF) mechanical arm serves as positioning and fixation system. After IR-based manual prepositioning to rough treatment position and fixation of the mechanical arm, a cone-beam CT(CBCT) is performed. A robotic 6 DoF treatment couch (HexaPOD™) then automatically corrects all remaining translations and rotations. This absolute position of infrared markers at the first fraction acts as reference for the following fractions where patients are manually prepositioned to within ± 2 mm and ± 2° of this IR reference position prior to final HexaPOD-based correction; consequently CBCT imaging is only required once at the first treatment fraction.
The preclinical feasibility and attainable repositioning accuracy of this method was evaluated on a phantom and human volunteers as was the clinical efficacy on 7 pilot study patients.
Results
Phantom and volunteer manual IR-based prepositioning to within ± 2 mm and ± 2° in 6DoF was possible within a mean(± SD) of 90 ± 31 and 56 ± 22 seconds respectively. Mean phantom translational and rotational precision after 6 DoF corrections by the HexaPOD was 0.2 ± 0.2 mm and 0.7 ± 0.8° respectively. For the actual patient collective, the mean 3D vector for inter-treatment repositioning accuracy (n = 102) was 1.6 ± 0.8 mm while intra-fraction movement (n = 110) was 0.6 ± 0.4 mm.
Conclusions
This novel semi-automatic 6DoF IR-based system has been shown to compare favourably with existing non-invasive intracranial repeat fixation systems with respect to handling, reproducibility and, more importantly, intra-fraction rigidity. Some advantages are full cranial positioning flexibility for single and fractionated IGRT treatments and possibly increased patient comfort.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-5-42
PMCID: PMC2890022  PMID: 20504338
13.  Evolution of surface-based deformable image registration for adaptive radiotherapy of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) 
Background
To evaluate the performance of surface-based deformable image registration (DR) for adaptive radiotherapy of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
Methods
Based on 13 patients with locally advanced NSCLC, CT images acquired at treatment planning, midway and the end of the radio- (n = 1) or radiochemotherapy (n = 12) course were used for evaluation of DR. All CT images were manually [gross tumor volume (GTV)] and automatically [organs-at-risk (OAR) lung, spinal cord, vertebral spine, trachea, aorta, outline] segmented. Contours were transformed into 3D meshes using the Pinnacle treatment planning system and corresponding mesh points defined control points for DR with interpolation within the structures. Using these deformation maps, follow-up CT images were transformed into the planning images and compared with the original planning CT images.
Results
A progressive tumor shrinkage was observed with median GTV volumes of 170 cm3 (range 42 cm3 - 353 cm3), 124 cm3 (19 cm3 - 325 cm3) and 100 cm3 (10 cm3 - 270 cm3) at treatment planning, mid-way and at the end of treatment. Without DR, correlation coefficients (CC) were 0.76 ± 0.11 and 0.74 ± 0.10 for comparison of the planning CT and the CT images acquired mid-way and at the end of treatment, respectively; DR significantly improved the CC to 0.88 ± 0.03 and 0.86 ± 0.05 (p = 0.001), respectively. With manual landmark registration as reference, DR reduced uncertainties on the GTV surface from 11.8 mm ± 5.1 mm to 2.9 mm ± 1.2 mm. Regarding the carina and intrapulmonary vessel bifurcations, DR reduced uncertainties by about 40% with residual errors of 4 mm to 6 mm on average. Severe deformation artefacts were observed in patients with resolving atelectasis and pleural effusion, in one patient, where the tumor was located around large bronchi and separate segmentation of the GTV and OARs was not possible, and in one patient, where no clear shrinkage but more a decay of the tumor was observed.
Discussion
The surface-based DR performed accurately for the majority of the patients with locally advanced NSCLC. However, morphological response patterns were identified, where results of the surface-based DR are uncertain.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-4-68
PMCID: PMC2804595  PMID: 20025753
14.  Prospective phase II study of preoperative short-course radiotherapy for rectal cancer with twice daily fractions of 2.9 Gy to a total dose of 29 Gy - Long-term results 
Background
To evaluate clinical outcome after preoperative short-course radiotherapy for rectal cancer with twice daily fractions of 2.9 Gy to a total dose of 29 Gy and adjuvant chemotherapy for pathological stage UICC ≥ II.
Methods
118 patients (median age 64 years; male : female ratio 2.5 : 1) with pathological proven rectal cancer (clinical stage II 50%, III 41.5%, IV 8.5%) were treated preoperatively with twice daily radiotherapy of 2.9 Gy single fraction dose to a total dose of 29 Gy; surgery was performed immediately in the following week with total mesorectal excision (TME). Adjuvant 5-FU based chemotherapy was planned for pathological stage UICC ≥ II.
Results
After low anterior resection (70%) and abdominoperineal resection (30%), pathology showed stage UICC I (27.1%), II (25.4%), III (37.3%) and IV (9.3%). Perioperative mortality was 3.4% and perioperative complications were observed in 22.8% of the patients. Adjuvant chemotherapy was given in 75.3% of patients with pathological stage UICC ≥ II. After median follow-up of 46 months, five-year overall survival was 67%, cancer-specific survival 76%, local control 92% and freedom from systemic progression 75%. Late toxicity > grade II was observed in 11% of the patients.
Conclusions
Preoperative short-course radiotherapy, total mesorectal excision and adjuvant chemotherapy for pathological stage UICC ≥ II achieved excellent local control and favorable survival.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-4-67
PMCID: PMC2806295  PMID: 20025752
15.  Investigation of the usability of conebeam CT data sets for dose calculation 
Background
To investigate the feasibility and accuracy of dose calculation in cone beam CT (CBCT) data sets.
Methods
Kilovoltage CBCT images were acquired with the Elekta XVI system, CT studies generated with a conventional multi-slice CT scanner (Siemens Somatom Sensation Open) served as reference images. Material specific volumes of interest (VOI) were defined for commercial CT Phantoms (CATPhan® and Gammex RMI®) and CT values were evaluated in CT and CBCT images. For CBCT imaging, the influence of image acquisition parameters such as tube voltage, with or without filter (F1 or F0) and collimation on the CT values was investigated. CBCT images of 33 patients (pelvis n = 11, thorax n = 11, head n = 11) were compared with corresponding planning CT studies. Dose distributions for three different treatment plans were calculated in CT and CBCT images and differences were evaluated. Four different correction strategies to match CT values (HU) and density (D) in CBCT images were analysed: standard CT HU-D table without adjustment for CBCT; phantom based HU-D tables; patient group based HU-D tables (pelvis, thorax, head); and patient specific HU-D tables.
Results
CT values in the CBCT images of the CATPhan® were highly variable depending on the image acquisition parameters: a mean difference of 564 HU ± 377 HU was calculated between CT values determined from the planning CT and CBCT images. Hence, two protocols were selected for CBCT imaging in the further part of the study and HU-D tables were always specific for these protocols (pelvis and thorax with M20F1 filter, 120 kV; head S10F0 no filter, 100 kV). For dose calculation in real patient CBCT images, the largest differences between CT and CBCT were observed for the standard CT HU-D table: differences were 8.0% ± 5.7%, 10.9% ± 6.8% and 14.5% ± 10.4% respectively for pelvis, thorax and head patients using clinical treatment plans. The use of patient and group based HU-D tables resulted in small dose differences between planning CT and CBCT: 0.9% ± 0.9%, 1.8% ± 1.6%, 1.5% ± 2.5% for pelvis, thorax and head patients, respectively. The application of the phantom based HU-D table was acceptable for the head patients but larger deviations were determined for the pelvis and thorax patient populations.
Conclusion
The generation of three HU-D tables specific for the anatomical regions pelvis, thorax and head and specific for the corresponding CBCT image acquisition parameters resulted in accurate dose calculation in CBCT images. Once these HU-D tables are created, direct dose calculation on CBCT datasets is possible without the need of a reference CT images for pixel value calibration.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-3-42
PMCID: PMC2648965  PMID: 19087250
16.  Influence of increased target dose inhomogeneity on margins for breathing motion compensation in conformal stereotactic body radiotherapy 
Background
Breathing motion should be considered for stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT) of lung tumors. Four-dimensional computer tomography (4D-CT) offers detailed information of tumor motion. The aim of this work is to evaluate the influence of inhomogeneous dose distributions in the presence of breathing induced target motion and to calculate margins for motion compensation.
Methods
Based on 4D-CT examinations, the probability density function of pulmonary tumors was generated for ten patients. The time-accumulated dose to the tumor was calculated using one-dimensional (1D) convolution simulations of a 'static' dose distribution and target probability density function (PDF). In analogy to stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), different degrees of dose inhomogeneity were allowed in the target volume: minimum doses of 100% were prescribed to the edge of the target and maximum doses varied between 102% (P102) and 150% (P150). The dose loss due to breathing motion was quantified and margins were added until this loss was completely compensated.
Results
With the time-weighted mean tumor position as the isocentre, a close correlation with a quadratic relationship between the standard deviation of the PDF and the margin size was observed. Increased dose inhomogeneity in the target volume required smaller margins for motion compensation: margins of 2.5 mm, 2.4 mm and 1.3 mm were sufficient for compensation of 11.5 mm motion range and standard deviation of 3.9 mm in P105, P125 and P150, respectively. This effect of smaller margins for increased dose inhomogeneity was observed for all patients. Optimal sparing of the organ-at-risk surrounding the target was achieved for dose prescriptions P105 to P118. The internal target volume concept over-compensated breathing motion with higher than planned doses to the target and increased doses to the surrounding normal tissue.
Conclusion
Treatment planning with inhomogeneous dose distributions in the target volume required smaller margins for compensation of breathing induced target motion with the consequence of lower doses to the surrounding organs-at-risk.
doi:10.1186/1756-6649-8-5
PMCID: PMC2637830  PMID: 19055768
17.  Does Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT) prevent additional toxicity of treating the pelvic lymph nodes compared to treatment of the prostate only? 
Background
To evaluate the risk of rectal, bladder and small bowel toxicity in intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) of the prostate only compared to additional irradiation of the pelvic lymphatic region.
Methods
For ten patients with localized prostate cancer, IMRT plans with a simultaneous integrated boost (SIB) were generated for treatment of the prostate only (plan-PO) and for additional treatment of the pelvic lymph nodes (plan-WP). In plan-PO, doses of 60 Gy and 74 Gy (33 fractions) were prescribed to the seminal vesicles and to the prostate, respectively. Three plans-WP were generated with prescription doses of 46 Gy, 50.4 Gy and 54 Gy to the pelvic target volume; doses to the prostate and seminal vesicles were identical to plan-PO. The risk of rectal, bladder and small bowel toxicity was estimated based on NTCP calculations.
Results
Doses to the prostate were not significantly different between plan-PO and plan-WP and doses to the pelvic lymph nodes were as planned. Plan-WP resulted in increased doses to the rectum in the low-dose region ≤ 30 Gy, only, no difference was observed in the mid and high-dose region. Normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) for late rectal toxicity ranged between 5% and 8% with no significant difference between plan-PO and plan-WP. NTCP for late bladder toxicity was less than 1% for both plan-PO and plan-WP. The risk of small bowel toxicity was moderately increased for plan-WP.
Discussion
This retrospective planning study predicted similar risks of rectal, bladder and small bowel toxicity for IMRT treatment of the prostate only and for additional treatment of the pelvic lymph nodes.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-3-3
PMCID: PMC2253547  PMID: 18190681
18.  Distinct effects of rectum delineation methods in 3D-confromal vs. IMRT treatment planning of prostate cancer 
Background
The dose distribution to the rectum, delineated as solid organ, rectal wall and rectal surface, in 3D conformal (3D-CRT) and intensity-modulated radiotherapy treatment (IMRT) planning for localized prostate cancer was evaluated.
Materials and methods
In a retrospective planning study 3-field, 4-field and IMRT treatment plans were analyzed for ten patients with localized prostate cancer. The dose to the rectum was evaluated based on dose-volume histograms of 1) the entire rectal volume (DVH) 2) manually delineated rectal wall (DWH) 3) rectal wall with 3 mm wall thickness (DWH3) 4) and the rectal surface (DSH). The influence of the rectal filling and of the seminal vesicles' anatomy on these dose parameters was investigated. A literature review of the dose-volume relationship for late rectal toxicity was conducted.
Results
In 3D-CRT (3-field and 4-field) the dose parameters differed most in the mid-dose region: the DWH showed significantly lower doses to the rectum (8.7% ± 4.2%) compared to the DWH3 and the DSH. In IMRT the differences between dose parameters were larger in comparison with 3D-CRT. Differences were statistically significant between DVH and all other dose parameters and between DWH and DSH. Mean doses were increased by 23.6% ± 8.7% in the DSH compared to the DVH in the mid-dose region. Furthermore, both the rectal filling and the anatomy of the seminal vesicles influenced the relationship between the dose parameters: a significant correlation of the difference between DVH and DWH and the rectal volume was seen in IMRT treatment.
Discussion
The method of delineating the rectum significantly influenced the dose representation in the dose-volume histogram. This effect was pronounced in IMRT treatment planning compared to 3D-CRT. For integration of dose-volume parameters from the literature into clinical practice these results have to be considered.
doi:10.1186/1748-717X-1-34
PMCID: PMC1570470  PMID: 16956403
19.  Transcriptome Analysis of Neisseria meningitidis during Infection 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(1):155-164.
Neisseria meningitidis is the cause of septicemia and meningococcal meningitis. During the course of infection, N. meningitidis encounters multiple environments within its host, which makes rapid adaptation to environmental changes a crucial factor for neisserial pathogenicity. Employing oligonucleotide-based DNA microarrays, we analyzed the transcriptome of N. meningitidis during two key steps of meningococcal infection, i.e., the interaction with epithelial cells (HeLa cells) and endothelial cells (human brain microvascular endothelial cells). Seventy-two genes were differentially regulated after contact with epithelial cells, and 48 genes were differentially regulated after contact with endothelial cells, including a considerable proportion of well-known virulence genes. While a considerable number of genes were in concordance between bacteria adherent to both cell types, we identified several open reading frames that were differentially regulated in only one system. The data obtained with this novel approach may provide insight into the pathogenicity mechanisms of N. meningitidis and could demonstrate the importance of gene regulation on the transcriptional level during different stages of meningococcal infection.
doi:10.1128/JB.185.1.155-164.2003
PMCID: PMC141974  PMID: 12486052
20.  Analysis of the Heat Shock Response of Neisseria meningitidis with cDNA- and Oligonucleotide-Based DNA Microarrays 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(9):2546-2551.
Oligonucleotide- and cDNA-based microarrays comprising a subset of Neisseria meningitidis genes were assessed for study of the meningococcal heat shock response and found to be highly suitable for transcriptional profiling of N. meningitidis. Employing oligonucleotide arrays encompassing the entire genome of N. meningitidis, we analyzed the meningococcal heat shock response on a global scale and identified 55 heat shock-deregulated open reading frames (34 induced and 21 repressed).
doi:10.1128/JB.184.9.2546-2551.2002
PMCID: PMC134990  PMID: 11948171

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