Optimal radiotherapy dose schedules under parametric uncertainty

Hamidreza Badri, Yoichi Watanabe, Kevin Leder

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


We consider the effects of parameter uncertainty on the optimal radiation schedule in the context of the linear-quadratic model. Our interest arises from the observation that if inter-patient variability in normal and tumor tissue radiosensitivity or sparing factor of the organs-at-risk (OAR) are not accounted for during radiation scheduling, the performance of the therapy may be strongly degraded or the OAR may receive a substantially larger dose than the allowable threshold. This paper proposes a stochastic radiation scheduling concept to incorporate inter-patient variability into the scheduling optimization problem. Our method is based on a probabilistic approach, where the model parameters are given by a set of random variables. Our probabilistic formulation ensures that our constraints are satisfied with a given probability, and that our objective function achieves a desired level with a stated probability. We used a variable transformation to reduce the resulting optimization problem to two dimensions. We showed that the optimal solution lies on the boundary of the feasible region and we implemented a branch and bound algorithm to find the global optimal solution. We demonstrated how the configuration of optimal schedules in the presence of uncertainty compares to optimal schedules in the absence of uncertainty (conventional schedule). We observed that in order to protect against the possibility of the model parameters falling into a region where the conventional schedule is no longer feasible, it is required to avoid extremal solutions, i.e. a single large dose or very large total dose delivered over a long period. Finally, we performed numerical experiments in the setting of head and neck tumors including several normal tissues to reveal the effect of parameter uncertainty on optimal schedules and to evaluate the sensitivity of the solutions to the choice of key model parameters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-364
Number of pages27
JournalPhysics in Medicine and Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 15 2015


  • optimal fractionation
  • radiotherapy
  • robust optimization
  • stochastic optimization


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