Objective: To describe the pattern and predictors of volumetric change of parotid glands during intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) for oropharyngeal cancer. Methods: A cohort of patients undergoing weekly CT scans during dose-painted IMRT was considered. The parotid glands were contoured at the time of treatment planning (baseline) and on all subsequent scans. For a given patient, the parotid glands were labelled as higher (H) and lower (L), based on the mean dose at planning. The volume of each gland was determined for each scan and the percent change from baseline computed. Data were fit to both linear and quadratic functions. The role of selected covariates was assessed with both logistic regression and pair-wise comparison between the sides. The analyses were performed considering the whole treatment duration or each separate half. Results: 85 patients, 170 glands and 565 scans were analysed. For all parotids except one, the quadratic function provided a better fit than the linear one. Moreover, according to both the logistic regression and pair-wise comparison, the cumulative mean dose of radiation is independently correlated with the parotid shrinkage during the first but not the second half of the treatment. Conversely, age and weight loss are predictors of relative parotid shrinkage during the entire course of the treatment. Conclusion: Parotid gland shrinkage during IMRT is not linear. Age, weight loss and radiation dose independently predict parotid shrinkage during a course of IMRT. Advances in knowledge: The present study adds to the pathophysiology of parotid shrinkage during radiotherapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging