TU-F-CAMPUS-J-01: Dosimetric Effects of HU Changes During the Course of Proton Therapy for Lung Cancer




To characterize the changes in Hounsfield unit (HU) in lung radiotherapy with proton beams during the course of treatment and to study the effect on the proton plan dose distribution.


Twenty consecutive patients with non-small cell lung cancer treated with proton radiotherapy who underwent multiple CT scans including the planning CT and weekly verification CTs were studied. HU histograms were computed for irradiated lung volumes in beam paths for all scans using the same treatment plan. Histograms for un-irradiated lung volume were used as control to characterize inter-scan variations. HU statistics were calculated for both irradiated and un-irradiated lung volumes for each patient scan. Further, multiple CT scans based on the same planning CT were generated by replacing the HU of the lung based on the verification CT scans HU values. Using the same beam arrangement, we created plans for each of the altered CT scans to study the dosimetric effect using the dose volume histogram.


Lung HU decreased for irradiated lung volume during the course of radiotherapy. The magnitude of this change increased with total irradiation dose. On average, HU changed by −53.8 in the irradiated volume. This change resulted in less than 0.5mm of beam overshoot in tissue for every 1cm beam traversed in the irradiated lung. The dose modification is about +3% for the lung, and less than +1% for the primary tumor.


HU of the lung decrease throughout the course of radiation therapy. This change results in a beam overshoot (e.g. 3mm for 6cm of lung traversed) and causes a small dose modification in the overall plan. However, this overshoot does not affect the quality of plans since the margins used in planning, based on proton range uncertainty, are greater. HU needs to change by 150 units before re-planning is warranted.