A dosimetric comparison of the use of equally spaced beam (ESB), beam angle optimization (BAO), and volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) in head and neck cancers treated by intensity modulated radiotherapy

Wan Shun Leung, Vincent W.C. Wu, Clarie Y.W. Liu, Ashley C.K. Cheng

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Previous studies have shown that the beam arrangement had significant influence on plan quality in intensity modulated radiotherapy (IMRT). This study aimed to evaluate the dosimetric performance of beam arrangement methods by employing equally spaced beams (ESB), beam angle optimization (BAO), and volumetric modulated arc therapy (VMAT) in the planning of five types of head and neck (H&N) cancers treated by IMRT. Methods: Five plans of different beam arrangement methods were optimized for 119 H&N cancer patients with the prescription of 66–70 Gy for high-risk planning target volume (PTV), 60 Gy for intermediate risk PTV, 54 Gy for low-risk PTV using a simultaneously integrated boost method. The five-beam arrangement methods were: ESB, coplanar BAO (BAOc), noncoplanar BAO (BAOnc), two-arc VMAT (VMAT2), and three-arc VMAT (VMAT3). The H&N cancers included cancers of nasopharynx, oral cavity, larynx, maxillary sinus, and parotid. Although the partial arc VMAT could be used in cases where the PTVs were situated at one side of the head such as the parotid, this arrangement was not included because it was intended to include only the beam arrangements that were applicable to all the types of head and neck cancers in the study. The plans were evaluated using a “figure-of-merit” known as uncomplicated target conformity index (UTCI). In addition, PTV conformation number and homogeneity index, normal tissue integral dose, and organ at risk (OAR) doses were also used. The mean values of these parameters were compared among the five plans. Results: All treatment plans met the preset dose requirements for the target volumes and OARs. For nasopharyngeal cancer, VMAT3 and BAOnc demonstrated significantly higher UTCI. For cancer of oral cavity, most beam arrangement showed similar UTCI except ESB, which was relatively lower. For cancer of larynx, there was no significant difference in UTCI among the five-beam arrangement methods. For cancers of maxillary sinus and parotid gland, the two BAO methods showed marginally higher UTCI among all the five methods. Conclusion: Individual methods showed dosimetric advantages on certain aspects, and the UTCI of the BAO treatment plans are marginally greater in the case of maxillary sinus and parotid gland. However, if treatment time was included into consideration, VMAT plans would be recommended for cancers of the nasopharynx, oral cavity, and larynx.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-130
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics
Issue number11
Early online dateOct 2019
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • beam angle optimization
  • head and neck radiation therapy
  • IMRT
  • VMAT

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiation
  • Instrumentation
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging

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