Purpose: Intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT) is known to be sensitive to patient setup and range uncertainty issues. Multiple robust optimization methods have been developed to mitigate the impact of these uncertainties. Here, we propose a new robust optimization method, which provides an alternative way of robust optimization in IMPT, and is clinically practical, which will enable users to control the balance between nominal plan quality and plan robustness in a user-defined fashion. Method: We calculated nine individual dose distributions which corresponded to one nominal and eight extreme scenarios caused by patient setup and proton beam's range uncertainties. For each voxel, the normalized dose interval (NDI) is defined as the full dose range variation divided by the maximum dose in all uncertainty scenarios (NDI = [max – min dose]/max dose), which was then used to calculate the normalized dose interval volume histogram (NDIVH) curves. The areas under the NDIVH curves were used to quantify plan robustness. A normalized dose interval volume constraint (NDIVC) applied to the target was incorporated to specify the desired robustness which was user-defined. Users could then explore the trade-off between nominal plan quality and plan robustness by adjusting the position of the NDIVCs on the NDIVH curves freely. We benchmarked our method using one lung, five head and neck (H&N), and three prostate cases by comparing our results to those derived using the voxel-wise worst-case robust optimization. Results: Using the benchmark cases, our new method achieved quality IMPT plans comparable to those derived from the voxel-wise worst-case robust optimization for both nominal plan quality and plan robustness in general; even more conformal and more homogeneous target dose distributions in some cases, if proper NDIVCs were applied. The AUC under NDIVH, as a precise quantitative index of plan robustness, was consistent with DVH bandwidths. Additionally, we demonstrated the feasibility of adjusting the position of NDIVCs in the NDIVH curves which allowed users to explore the trade-off between nominal plan quality and plan robustness. Conclusions: The NDIVH-based robust optimization method provided a novel and individualized way of robust optimization in IMPT, and enables users to adjust the balance between nominal plan quality and plan robustness in a user-defined fashion. This method is applicable for continued improvement and developing the next generation of IMPT planning algorithms in the future.
- intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT)
- normalized dose interval
- normalized dose interval volume constraint
- quantitative measurement of plan robustness
- robust optimization
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging