Three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT) has been introduced to treat nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) in Hong Kong. Three more commonly used techniques, which are labelled as 3-field, 4-field and 6-field techniques, are currently employed as a booster treatment and no standard 3DCRT technique has yet been established. This study is aimed to evaluate and compare the dose distributions for the three common 3DCRT techniques so as to provide basis for the development of a routine protocol in future.
For each 3DCRT technique, eight patients with T3 tumours treated between 1997 to 1998 were recruited. Treatment planning was performed with the patients' CT images loaded into the 3-D treatment planning systems. The planning target volume (PTV) and eight organs at risk were delineated for dose assessment. Treatment plans were produced based on the criteria of the corresponding 3DCRT techniques. Dose volume histograms, 2-D and 3-D dose displays were used for dose evaluation.
All three techniques produced reasonable homogenous dose to the PTV. There was no significant difference in the mean doses of the PTV, spinal cord, lens, eyeball, temporal lobe and pituitary. The 3-field technique was superior in sparing the thyroid and optic nerve. The 6-field technique offered lower brain stem dose, and the 4-field technique was in between the two. The use of a vertex field slightly improved dose homogeneity of PTV and reduced the brain stem dose, but the doses to the optic nerve, thyroid, pituitary and temporal lobe were increased.