The delineation of target volumes for radiotherapy of lung cancer patients.

Radiother Oncol 2009 Jun 30;91(3):455-60. Epub 2009 Mar 30.

Department of Radiotherapy and Radiooncology, University Hospital Göttingen, Robert-Koch-Strasse, Germany.

Purpose: Differences in the delineation of the gross target volume (GTV) and planning target volume (PTV) in patients with non-small-cell lung cancer are considerable. The focus of this work is on the analysis of observer-related reasons while controlling for other variables.

Methods: In three consecutive patients, eighteen physicians from fourteen different departments delineated the GTV and PTV in CT-slices using a detailed instruction for target delineation. Differences in the volumes, the delineated anatomic lymph node compartments and differences in every delineated pixel of the contoured volumes in the CT-slices (pixel-by-pixel-analysis) were evaluated for different groups: ten radiation oncologists from ten departments (ROs), four haematologic oncologists and chest physicians from four departments (HOs) and five radiation oncologists from one department (RO1D).

Results: Agreement (overlap > or = 70% of the contoured pixels) for the GTV and PTV delineation was found in 16.3% and 23.7% (ROs), 30.4% and 38.6% (HOs) and 32.8% and 35.9% (RO1D), respectively.

Conclusion: A large interobserver variability in the PTV and much more in the GTV delineation were observed in spite of a detailed instruction for delineation. The variability was smallest for group ROID where due to repeated discussions and uniform teaching a better agreement was achieved.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.radonc.2009.03.014DOI Listing
June 2009
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