Real-Time Tracking of Respiratory-Induced Tumor Motion by Dose-Rate Regulation Open Access
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We have developed a novel real-time tumor-tracking technology, called Dose-Rate-Regulated Tracking (DRRT), to compensate for tumor motion caused by breathing. Unlike other previously proposed tumor-tracking methods, this new method uses a preprogrammed dynamic multileaf collimator (MLC) sequence in combination with real-time dose-rate control. This new scheme circumvents the technical challenge in MLC-based tumor tracking, that is to control the MLC motion in real time, based on real-time detected tumor motion. The preprogrammed MLC sequence describes the movement of the tumor, as a function of breathing phase, amplitude, or tidal volume. The irregularity of tumor motion during treatment is handled by real-time regulation of the dose rate, which effectively speeds up or slows down the delivery of radiation as needed. This method is based on the fact that all of the parameters in dynamic radiation delivery, including MLC motion, are enslaved to the cumulative dose, which, in turn, can be accelerated or decelerated by varying the dose rate. Because commercially available MLC systems do not allow the MLC delivery sequence to be modified in real time based on the patient's breathing signal, previously proposed tumor-tracking techniques using a MLC cannot be readily implemented in the clinic today. By using a preprogrammed MLC sequence to handle the required motion, the task for real-time control is greatly simplified. We have developed and tested the preprogrammed MLC sequence and the dose-rate regulation algorithm using lung-cancer patients breathing signals. It has been shown that DRRT can track the tumor with an accuracy of less than 2 mm for a latency of the DRRT system of less than 0.35 s. We also have evaluated the usefulness of guided breathing for DRRT. Since DRRT by its very nature can compensate for breathing-period changes, guided breathing was shown to be unnecessary for real-time tracking when using DRRT. Finally, DRRT uses the existing dose-rate control system that is provided for current linear accelerators. Therefore, DRRT can be achieved with minimal modification of existing technology, and this can shorten substantially the time necessary to establish DRRT in clinical practice.