Multicriteria optimization for volumetric-modulated arc therapy by decomposition into a fluence-based relaxation and a segment weight-based restriction

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Abstract

Purpose:

To develop a method for inverse volumetric-modulated arc therapy (VMAT) planning that combines multicriteria optimization (MCO) with direct machine parameter optimization. The ultimate goal is to provide an efficient and intuitive method for generating high quality VMAT plans.

Methods:

Multicriteria radiation therapy treatment planning amounts to approximating the relevant treatment options by a discrete set of plans, and selecting the combination thereof that strikes the best possible balance between conflicting objectives. This approach is applied to two decompositions of the inverse VMAT planning problem: a fluence-based relaxation considered at a coarsened gantry angle spacing and under a regularizing penalty on fluence modulation, and a segment weight-based restriction in a neighborhood of the solution to the relaxed problem. The two considered variable domains are interconnected by direct machine parameter optimization toward reproducing the dose-volume histogram of the fluence-based solution.

Results:

The dose distribution quality of plans generated by the proposed MCO method was assessed by direct comparison with benchmark plans generated by a conventional VMAT planning method. The results for four patient cases (prostate, pancreas, lung, and head and neck) are highly comparable between the MCO plans and the benchmark plans: Discrepancies between studied dose-volume statistics for organs at risk were—with the exception of the kidneys of the pancreas case—within 1 Gy or 1 percentage point. Target coverage of the MCO plans was comparable with that of the benchmark plans, but with a small tendency toward a shift from conformity to homogeneity.

Conclusions:

MCO allows tradeoffs between conflicting objectives encountered in VMAT planning to be explored in an interactive manner through search over a continuous representation of the relevant treatment options. Treatment plans selected from such a representation are of comparable dose distribution quality to conventionally optimized VMAT plans.

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