SU-E-T-198: Hippocampal-Sparing Radiotherapy (HSRT) for Patients with Head and Neck Cancer (HNC) Using Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT)




There is increasing evidence that decline in cognitive function following brain radiotherapy (RT) is related to the radiation dose delivered to the hippocampi. In this work we evaluate the feasibility of using IMRT to generate HSRT plans in HNC.


A planning study was undertaken for ten representative patients with HNC previously treated with radical (chemo)-RT using standard IMRT techniques. The hippocampi were delineated according to the RTOG hippocampal contouring atlas, on a T1w- MRI scan that was registered with the RT planning CT. LINAC-based, clinically acceptable, HSRT plans were generated and assessed using the Pinnacle3 treatment planning system.


Using a VMAT technique, a reduction in hippocampal dose was achievable in six cases. For these cases, the EQD2-D40% of the bilateral hippocampi was significantly reduced by HSRT (p = 0.006) from a median of 18.8Gy (range 14.4–34.6) to 6.5 Gy (4.2–9.5) for the delivered and HSRT plans respectively. Plans were also generated using a fixed-field IMRT technique with non-coplanar beams that were designed to avoid the bilateral hippocampi, resulting in a median EQD2-D40% of 11.2Gy (8.0–14.5). Both HSRT techniques also resulted in lower doses to the whole brain, brain stem, and cerebellum. The HSRT plans resulted in higher doses to some regions of non-contoured normaltissue, but the magnitude of these dose differences is unlikely to be of clinical significance in terms of acute and late toxicity.


This study has demonstrated that it is possible, in many cases, to adapt treatment plans for HNC to significantly reduce dose to the hippocampi. This reduction in dose would be predicted to Resultin a significant reduction in the probability of subsequent decline in cognitive function following RT. Our results point towards the need for the collection of prospective data on cognitive outcomes for the HNC patient population treated with radical (chemo)-RT