Probabilistic evaluation of plan quality for time-dependent anatomical deformations in head and neck cancer patients

Jennifer Robbins, Marcel van Herk, Björn Eiben, Andrew Green, Eliana Vásquez Osorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: In addition to patient set-up uncertainties, anatomical deformations, e.g., weight loss, lead to time-dependent differences between the planned and delivered dose in a radiotherapy course that currently cannot easily be predicted. The aim of this study was to create time-varying prediction models to describe both the average and residual anatomical deformations. Methods: Weekly population-based principal component analysis models were generated from on-treatment cone-beam CT scans (CBCTs) of 30 head and neck cancer patients, with additional data of 35 patients used as a validation cohort. We simulated treatment courses accounting for a) anatomical deformations, b) set-up uncertainties and c) a combination of both. The dosimetric effects of the simulated deformations were compared to a direct dose accumulation based on deformable registration of the CBCT data. Results: Set-up uncertainties were seen to have a larger effect on the organ at risk (OAR) doses than anatomical deformations for all OARs except the larynx and the primary CTV. Distributions from simulation results were in good agreement with those of the accumulated dose. Conclusions: We present a novel method of modelling time-varying organ deformations in head and neck cancer. The effect on the OAR doses from these deformations are smaller than the effect of set-up uncertainties for most OARs. These models can, for instance, be used to predict which patients could benefit from adaptive radiotherapy, prior to commencing treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102579
JournalPhysica Medica
Early online date15 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2023


  • Anatomical deformations
  • Head and Neck
  • PCA
  • Radiotherapy


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