Evaluation of an objective plan-evaluation model in the three dimensional treatment of nonsmall cell lung cancer

Mary V. Graham, Nilesh L. Jain, Michael G. Kahn, Robert E. Drzymala, James A. Purdy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Purpose: Evaluation of three dimensional (3D) radiotherapy plans is difficult because it requires the review of vast amounts of data. Selecting the optimal plan from a set of competing plans involves making tradeoffs among the doses delivered to the target volumes and normal tissues. The purpose of this study was to test an objective plan-evaluation model and evaluate its clinical usefulness in 3D treatment planning for nonsmall cell lung cancer. Methods and Materials: Twenty patients with inoperable nonsmall cell lung cancer treated with definitive radiotherapy were studied using full 3D techniques for treatment design and implementation. For each patient, the evaluator (the treating radiation oncologist) initially ranked three plans using room-view dose-surface displays and dose-volume histograms, and identified the issues that needed to be improved. The three plans were then ranked by the objective plan-evaluation model. A figure of merit (FOM) was computed for each plan by combining the numerical score (utility in decision- theoretic terms) for each clinical issue. The utility was computed from a probability of occurrence of the issue and a physician-specific weight indicating its clinical relevance. The FOM was used to rank the competing plans for a patient, and the utility was used to identify issues that needed to be improved. These were compared with the initial evaluations of the physician and discrepancies were analyzed. The issues identified in the best treatment plan were then used to attempt further manual optimization of this plan. Results: For the 20 patients (60 plans) in the study, the final plan ranking produced by the plan-evaluation model had an initial 73% agreement with the ranking provided by the evaluator. After discrepant cases were reviewed by the physician, the model was usually judged more objective or 'correct.' In most cases the model was also able to correctly identify the issues that needed improvement in each plan. Subsequent replanning confirmed that further manual plan optimization could be achieved in 17 patients. Conclusion: The objective plan-evaluation model was able to rank lung cancer radiotherapy plans from best to worst. It was useful in improving plans and may be useful to physicians in defining goals for patients based on the ability to effectively and safely treat their tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)469-474
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 1996


  • Decision theory
  • Lung cancer
  • Three dimensional radiation therapy
  • Treatment plan- evaluation


Dive into the research topics of 'Evaluation of an objective plan-evaluation model in the three dimensional treatment of nonsmall cell lung cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this