Dosimetric comparison between proton beam therapy and photon radiation therapy for locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer

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To assess the feasibility of proton beam therapy for the patients with locally advanced non-small lung cancer.


The dosimetry was analyzed retrospectively to calculate the doses to organs at risk, such as the lung, heart, esophagus and spinal cord. A dosimetric comparison between proton beam therapy and dummy photon radiotherapy (three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy) plans was performed. Dummy intensity-modulated radiotherapy plans were also generated for the patients for whom curative three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy plans could not be generated.


Overall, 33 patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer were treated with proton beam therapy between December 2011 and August 2014. The median age of the eligible patients was 67 years (range: 44–87 years). All the patients were treated with chemotherapy consisting of cisplatin/vinorelbine or carboplatin. The median prescribed dose was 60 GyE (range: 60–66 GyE). The mean normal lung V20 GyE was 23.6% (range: 14.9–32%), and the mean normal lung dose was 11.9 GyE (range: 6.0–19 GyE). The mean esophageal V50 GyE was 25.5% (range: 0.01–63.6%), the mean heart V40 GyE was 13.4% (range: 1.4–29.3%) and the mean maximum spinal cord dose was 40.7 GyE (range: 22.9–48 GyE). Based on dummy three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy planning, 12 patients were regarded as not being suitable for radical thoracic three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy. All the dose parameters of proton beam therapy, except for the esophageal dose, were lower than those for the dummy three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy plans. In comparison to the intensity-modulated radiotherapy plan, proton beam therapy also achieved dose reduction in the normal lung. None of the patients experienced grade 4 or worse non-hematological toxicities.


Proton beam therapy for patients with stage III non-small cell lung cancer was feasible and was superior to three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy for several dosimetric parameters.

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