SU-E-T-549: A Combinatorial Optimization Approach to Treatment Planning with Non-Uniform Fractions in Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy




Non-uniform fractionation, i.e. delivering distinct dose distributions in two subsequent fractions, can potentially improve outcomes by increasing biological dose to the target without increasing dose to healthy tissues. This is possible if both fractions deliver a similar dose to normal tissues (exploit the fractionation effect) but high single fraction doses to subvolumes of the target (hypofractionation). Optimization of such treatment plans can be formulated using biological equivalent dose (BED), but leads to intractable nonconvex optimization problems. We introduce a novel optimization approach to address this challenge.


We first optimize a reference IMPT plan using standard techniques that delivers a homogeneous target dose in both fractions. The method then divides the pencil beams into two sets, which are assigned to either fraction one or fraction two. The total intensity of each pencil beam, and therefore the physical dose, remains unchanged compared to the reference plan. The objectives are to maximize the mean BED in the target and to minimize the mean BED in normal tissues, which is a quadratic function of the pencil beam weights. The optimal reassignment of pencil beams to one of the two fractions is formulated as a binary quadratic optimization problem. A near-optimal solution to this problem can be obtained by convex relaxation and randomized rounding.


The method is demonstrated for a large arteriovenous malformation (AVM) case treated in two fractions. The algorithm yields a treatment plan, which delivers a high dose to parts of the AVM in one of the fractions, but similar doses in both fractions to the normal brain tissue adjacent to the AVM. Using the approach, the mean BED in the target was increased by approximately 10% compared to what would have been possible with a uniform reference plan for the same normal tissue mean BED.