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Volume 17, Number 3, 2012

A study on conventional IMRT and RapidArc treatment planning techniques for head and neck cancers

S.A. Syam Kumar, Nagarajan Vivekanandan, Padmanaban Sriram



To evaluate the performance of volumetric arc modulation with RapidArc against conventional IMRT for head and neck cancers.


RapidArc is a novel technique that has recently been made available for clinical use. Planning study was done for volumetric arc modulation with RapidArc against conventional IMRT for head and neck cancers.

Materials and methods

Ten patients with advanced tumors of the nasopharynx, oropharynx, and hypopharynx were selected for the planning comparison study. PTV was delineated for two different dose levels and planning was done by means of simultaneously integrated boost technique. A total dose of 70 Gy was delivered to the boost volume (PTV boost) and 57.7 Gy to the elective PTV (PTV elective) in 35 equal treatment fractions. PTV boost consisted of the gross tumor volume and lymph nodes containing visible macroscopic tumor or biopsy-proven positive lymph nodes, whereas the PTV elective consisted of elective nodal regions. Planning was done for IMRT using 9 fields and RapidArc with single arc, double arc. Beam was equally placed for IMRT plans. Single arc RapidArc plan utilizes full 360° gantry rotation and double arc consists of 2 co-planar arcs of 360° in clockwise and counter clockwise direction. Collimator was rotated from 35 to 45° to cover the entire tumor, which reduced the tongue and groove effect during gantry rotation. All plans were generated with 6 MV X-rays for CLINAC 2100 Linear Accelerator. Calculations were done in the Eclipse treatment planning system (version 8.6) using the AAA algorithm.


Double arc plans show superior dose homogeneity in PTV compared to a single arc and IMRT 9 field technique. Target coverage was almost similar in all the techniques. The sparing of spinal cord in terms of the maximum dose was better in the double arc technique by 4.5% when compared to the IMRT 9 field and single arc techniques. For healthy tissue, no significant changes were observed between the plans in terms of the mean dose and integral dose. But RapidArc plans showed a reduction in the volume of the healthy tissue irradiated at V15 Gy (5.81% for single arc and 4.69% for double arc) and V20 Gy (7.55% for single arc and 5.89% for double arc) dose levels when compared to the 9-Field IMRT technique. For brain stem, maximum dose was similar in all the techniques. The average MU (±SD) needed to deliver the dose of 200 cGy per fraction was 474 ± 80 MU and 447 ± 45 MU for double arc and single arc as against 948 ± 162 MU for the 9-Field IMRT plan. A considerable reduction in maximum dose to the mandible by 6.05% was observed with double arc plan. Double arc shows a reduction in the parotid mean dose when compared with single arc and IMRT plans.


RapidArc using double arc provided a significant sparing of OARs and healthy tissue without compromising target coverage compared to IMRT. The main disadvantage with IMRT observed was higher monitor units and longer treatment time.

Signature: Rep Pract Oncol Radiother, 2012; 17(3) : 168-175

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