The purpose was to study correlations amongst IMRT DVH evaluation points and how their relaxation impacts the overall plan. 100 head-and-neck cancer cases, using the Eclipse treatment planning system with the same protocol, are statistically analyzed for PTV, brainstem, and spinal cord. To measure variations amongst the plans, we use (i) interquartile range (IQR) of volume as a function of dose, (ii) interquartile range of dose as a function of volume, and (iii) dose falloff. To determine correlations for institutional and ICRU goals, conditional probabilities and medians are computed. We observe that most plans exceed the median PTV dose (average Symbol prescribed dose). Furthermore, satisfying Symbol reduced the probability of also satisfying Symbol, constituting a negative correlation of these goals. On the other hand, satisfying Symbol increased the probability of satisfying Symbol, suggesting a positive correlation. A positive correlation is also observed between the PTV Symbol and Symbol. Similarly, a positive correlation between the brainstem Symbol and Symbol is measured by an increase in the conditional median of Symbol, when Symbol is violated. Despite the imposed institutional and international recommendations, significant variations amongst DVH points can occur. Even though DVH aims are evaluated independently, sizable correlations amongst them are possible, indicating that some goals cannot be satisfied concurrently, calling for unbiased plan criteria.
PACS number(s): 87.55.dk, 87.53.Bn, 87.55.Qr, 87.55.de.