TH-CD-209-05: Impact of Spot Size and Spacing On the Quality of Robustly-Optimized Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy Plans for Lung Cancer




To investigate how spot size and spacing affect plan quality, especially, plan robustness and the impact of interplay effect, of robustly-optimized intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) plans for lung cancer.


Two robustly-optimized IMPT plans were created for 10 lung cancer patients: (1) one for a proton beam with in-air energy dependent large spot size at isocenter (σ: 5–15 mm) and spacing (1.53σ); (2) the other for a proton beam with small spot size (σ: 2–6 mm) and spacing (5 mm). Both plans were generated on the average CTs with internal-gross-tumor-volume density overridden to irradiate internal target volume (ITV). The root-mean-square-dose volume histograms (RVH) measured the sensitivity of the dose to uncertainties, and the areas under RVH curves were used to evaluate plan robustness. Dose evaluation software was developed to model time-dependent spot delivery to incorporate interplay effect with randomized starting phases of each field per fraction. Patient anatomy voxels were mapped from phase to phase via deformable image registration to score doses. Dose-volume-histogram indices including ITV coverage, homogeneity, and organs-at-risk (OAR) sparing were compared using Student-t test.


Compared to large spots, small spots resulted in significantly better OAR sparing with comparable ITV coverage and homogeneity in the nominal plan. Plan robustness was comparable for ITV and most OARs. With interplay effect considered, significantly better OAR sparing with comparable ITV coverage and homogeneity is observed using smaller spots.


Robust optimization with smaller spots significantly improves OAR sparing with comparable plan robustness and similar impact of interplay effect compare to larger spots. Small spot size requires the use of larger number of spots, which gives optimizer more freedom to render a plan more robust. The ratio between spot size and spacing was found to be more relevant to determine plan robustness and the impact of interplay effect than spot size alone.

This research was supported by the National Cancer Institute Career Developmental Award K25CA168984, by the Fraternal Order of Eagles Cancer Research Fund Career Development Award, by The Lawrence W. and Marilyn W. Matteson Fund for Cancer Research, by Mayo Arizona State University Seed Grant, and by The Kemper Marley Foundation.