Dose-volume analysis of predictors for chronic rectal toxicity after treatment of prostate cancer with adaptive image-guided radiotherapy

Carlos Vargas, Alvaro Martinez, Larry L. Kestin, Di Yan, Inga Grills, Donald S. Brabbins, David M. Lockman, Jian Liang, Gary S. Gustafson, Peter Y. Chen, Frank A. Vicini, John W. Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

175 Scopus citations


Purpose: We analyzed our experience treating localized prostate cancer with image-guided off-line correction with adaptive high-dose radiotherapy (ART) in our Phase II dose escalation study to identify factors predictive of chronic rectal toxicity. Materials and Methods: From 1999-2002, 331 patients with clinical stage T1-T3N0M0 prostate cancer were prospectively treated in our Phase II 3D conformal dose escalation ART study to a median dose of 75.6 Gy (range, 63.0-79.2 Gy), minimum dose to confidence limited-planning target volume (cl-PTV) in 1.8 Gy fractions (median isocenter dose = 79.7 Gy). Seventy-four patients (22%) also received neoadjuvant/adjuvant androgen deprivation therapy. A patient-specific cl-PTV was constructed using 5 computed tomography scans and 4 sets of electronic portal images by applying an adaptive process to assure target accuracy and minimize PTV margin. For each case, the rectum (rectal solid) was contoured from the sacroiliac joints or rectosigmoid junction (whichever was higher) to the anal verge or ischial tuberosities (whichever was lower), with a median volume of 81.2 cc. The rectal wall was defined using the rectal solid with an individualized 3-mm wall thickness (median volume = 29.8 cc). Rectal wall dose-volume histogram was used to determine the prescribed dose. Toxicity was quantified using the National Cancer Institute Common Toxicity Criteria 2.0. Multiple dose-volume endpoints were evaluated for their association with chronic rectal toxicity. Results: Median follow-up was 1.6 years. Thirty-four patients (crude rate = 10.3%) experienced Grade 2 chronic rectal toxicity at a median interval of 1.1 years. Nine patients (crude rate = 2.7%) experienced Grade <3 chronic rectal toxicity (1 was Grade 4) at a median interval of 1.2 years. The 3-year rates of Grade <2 and Grade <3 chronic rectal toxicity were 20% and 4%, respectively. Acute toxicity predicted for chronic: Acute Grade 2-3 rectal toxicity (p < 0.001) including any acute rectal Grade 2-3 tenesmus (p = 0.02) and pain (p = 0.008) were significant predictors of chronic Grade <2 rectal toxicity. Any acute rectal toxicity (p = 0.001), any acute tenesmus (p = 0.03), and any acute diarrhea (p < 0.001) were also found to be predictive for chronic toxicity, as continuous variables. Dose-volume histogram predicted for chronic toxicity: Rectal wall absolute and relative V50, V60, V66.6, V70, and V72 and rectal solid relative V60-V72 were significantly associated with chronic Grade <2 rectal toxicity both as categorical and continuous variables (t test, linear regression) and when divided into subgroups (chi-square table). The chronic rectal toxicity Grade <2 risk was 9%, 18%, and 25% for the rectal wall relative V70 <15%, 25%-40%, and >40% respectively. The volume of rectum or rectal wall radiated to <50 Gy was a strong predictor for chronic rectal toxicity. Nonpredictive factors: Rectal solid/wall absolute or relative volumes irradiated to ≤40 Gy, dose level, and use of androgen deprivation were not found predictive. Conclusions: In our ART dose escalation study, rectal wall or rectum relative <V50 are closely predictive for chronic rectal toxicity. If rectal dose-volume histogram constraints are used to select the dose level, the risk of chronic rectal toxicity will reflect the risk of toxicity of the selected constraint rather than the dose selected as found in our study using an adaptive process. To select the prescribed dose, different dose-volume histogram constraints may be used including the rectal wall V70. Patients experiencing acute rectal toxicity are more likely to experience chronic toxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1297-1308
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Dose escalation
  • Dose-volume histogram
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal toxicity
  • Three-dimensional conformal radiation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Cancer Research


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