Effects of respiratory motion on passively scattered proton therapy versus intensity modulated photon therapy for stage III lung cancer: Are proton plans more sensitive to breathing motion?

Jason Matney, Peter C. Park, Jaques Bluett, Yi Pei Chen, Wei Liu, Laurence E. Court, Zhongxing Liao, Heng Li, Radhe Mohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose To quantify and compare the effects of respiratory motion on paired passively scattered proton therapy (PSPT) and intensity modulated photon therapy (IMRT) plans; and to establish the relationship between the magnitude of tumor motion and the respiratory-induced dose difference for both modalities. Methods and Materials In a randomized clinical trial comparing PSPT and IMRT, radiation therapy plans have been designed according to common planning protocols. Four-dimensional (4D) dose was computed for PSPT and IMRT plans for a patient cohort with respiratory motion ranging from 3 to 17 mm. Image registration and dose accumulation were performed using grayscale-based deformable image registration algorithms. The dose-volume histogram (DVH) differences (4D-3D [3D = 3-dimensional]) were compared for PSPT and IMRT. Changes in 4D-3D dose were correlated to the magnitude of tumor respiratory motion. Results The average 4D-3D dose to 95% of the internal target volume was close to zero, with 19 of 20 patients within 1% of prescribed dose for both modalities. The mean 4D-3D between the 2 modalities was not statistically significant (P<.05) for all dose-volume histogram indices (mean ± SD) except the lung V5 (PSPT: +1.1% ± 0.9%; IMRT: +0.4% ± 1.2%) and maximum cord dose (PSPT: +1.5 ± 2.9 Gy; IMRT: 0.0 ± 0.2 Gy). Changes in 4D-3D dose were correlated to tumor motion for only 2 indices: dose to 95% planning target volume, and heterogeneity index. Conclusions With our current margin formalisms, target coverage was maintained in the presence of respiratory motion up to 17 mm for both PSPT and IMRT. Only 2 of 11 4D-3D indices (lung V5 and spinal cord maximum) were statistically distinguishable between PSPT and IMRT, contrary to the notion that proton therapy will be more susceptible to respiratory motion. Because of the lack of strong correlations with 4D-3D dose differences in PSPT and IMRT, the extent of tumor motion was not an adequate predictor of potential dosimetric error caused by breathing motion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)576-582
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2013
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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