The management of prostate cancer patients with a significant risk of pelvic lymph node involvement is controversial. Both whole pelvis radiotherapy and dose escalation to the prostate have been linked to improved outcome in such patients, but it is unclear whether conventional whole pelvis doses of only 45-50 Gy are optimal for ultimate nodal control. The purpose of this study is to examine the dosimetric and clinical feasibility of combining prostate dose escalation via hypofractionation with conformal avoidance-based IMRT (H-CAD) dose escalation to the pelvic lymph nodes. One conformal avoidance and one conventional plan were generated for each of eight patients. Conformal avoidance-based IMRT plans were generated that specifically excluded bowel, rectum, and bladder. The prostate and lower seminal vesicles (PTV 70) were planned to receive 70 Gy in 2.5 Gy/fraction while the pelvic lymph nodes (PTV 56) were to concurrently receive 56 Gy in 2 Gy/fraction. The volume of small bowel receiving ≥45 Gy was restricted to 300 ml or less. These conformal avoidance plans were delivered using helical tomotherapy or LINAC-based IMRT with daily imaging localization. All patients received neoadjuvant and concurrent androgen deprivation with a planned total of two years. The conventional, sequential plans created for comparison purposes for all patients consisted of a conventional 4-field pelvic box prescribed to 50.4 Gy (1.8 Gy/fraction) followed by an IMRT boost to the prostate of 25.2 Gy (1.8 Gy/fraction) yielding a final prostate dose of 75.6 Gy. For all plans, the prescription dose was to cover the target structure. Equivalent uniform dose (EUD) analyses were performed on all targets and dose-volume histograms (DVH) were displayed in terms of both physical and normalized total dose (NTD), i.e. dose in 2 Gy fraction equivalents. H-CAD IMRT plans were created for and delivered to all eight patients. Analysis of the H-CAD plans demonstrates prescription dose coverage of >95% of both the PTV 70 (prostate) and PTV 56 (nodes). The EUDs for PTV 70 and PTV 56 were greater than prescription dose for all eight plans. Analysis of bio-effective DVHs demonstrated similar amounts of small bowel receiving ≥45 Gy for H-CAD and sequential plans, in spite of the significantly higher dose to which H-CAD treated the pelvic nodes. The treatment was well tolerated in the eight treated patients in that no grade 2 or higher acute gastrointestinal toxicities were seen. Prostate hypofractionation with concurrent conformal avoidance-based pelvic IMRT for high risk prostate cancer represents an efficient and promising method for achieving dose escalation both of pelvic lymph nodes and the prostate with modest acute toxicity. Unlike a vascular-guided targeting approach, conformal avoidance has the potential advantage of also encompassing at-risk nodes that are not contained within major nodal chains. A phase II trial to more thoroughly examine this treatment approach is currently underway.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging