Helical tomotherapy is an innovative means of delivering intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) using a device that merges features of a linear accelerator and a helical computed tomography (CT) scanner. The tomotherapy unit can generate CT images from the megavoltage radiation it uses for treatment as often as needed during a course of radiation therapy. These megavoltage CT (MVCT) images offer verification of patient position prior to and potentially during radiation therapy, and provide considerably more anatomical detail than the conventional radiation therapy port films used for patient set-up verification. Also, MVCT imaging may enable reconstruction of the radiation dose delivered, thereby providing unprecedented verification of the actual treatment. These key features of helical tomotherapy distinguish it from other IMRT approaches. We report results from a pilot feasibility trial of 10 patients with non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) on whom we obtained MVCT images using a prototype helical tomotherapy system. All patients underwent conventional CT imaging for radiation therapy treatment planning. Specific aims were to subjectively compare MVCT and conventional CT images and then to objectively compare the 2 modalities by contouring tumors and performing a volumetric comparison. Seven patients had disease located primarily in the lung parenchyma, 2 primarily in the mediastinum, and 1 in both. When evaluated by location, all 7 patients with lesions primarily in the lung parenchyma had subjectively high-quality MVCT images. Objectively, the volumetric agreement between conventional and MVCT for parenchymal lesions was excellent in 5 of the 7 patients. Megavoltage CT imaging via the helical tomotherapy prototype provided adequate information for use in verification of patient position and dose reconstruction for lesions within the pulmonary parenchyma, but presently appears suboptimal for primarily mediastinal disease. Further studies are ongoing to optimize MVCT imaging and better define its utility in patients with NSCLC.
- Helical tomotherapy
- Intensity-modulated radiation therapy
- Non-small-cell lung cancer
- Radiation therapy treatment planning