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An important but little examined aspect of radiation dosimetry studies involving organs outside the treatment field is how to assess dose to organs that are partially within a treatment field; this question is particularly important for studies intended to measure total absorbed dose in order to predict the risk of radiogenic late effects, such as second cancers. The purpose of this investigation was therefore to establish a method to categorize organs as in-field, out-of-field or partially in-field that would be applicable to both conventional and modern radiotherapy techniques. In this study, we defined guidelines to categorize the organs based on isodose inclusion criteria, developed methods to assess doses to partially in-field organs, and then tested the methods by applying them to a case of intensity-modulated radiotherapy for hepatocellular carcinoma based on actual patient data. For partially in-field organs, we recommend performing a sensitivity test to determine whether potential inaccuracies in low-dose regions of the DVH (from the treatment planning system) have a substantial effect on the mean organ dose, i.e. >5%. In such cases, we suggest supplementing calculated DVH data with measured dosimetric data using a volume-weighting technique to determine the mean dose. © 2010 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

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Physics in Medicine and Biology

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