Differences in delineation guidelines for head and neck cancer result in inconsistent reported dose and corresponding NTCP

Charlotte L. Brouwer*, Roel J.H.M. Steenbakkers, Elske Gort, Marije E. Kamphuis, Hans Paul Van Der Laan, Aart A. Van'T Veld, Nanna M. Sijtsema, Johannes A. Langendijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose To test the hypothesis that delineation of swallowing organs at risk (SWOARs) based on different guidelines results in differences in dose-volume parameters and subsequent normal tissue complication probability (NTCP) values for dysphagia-related endpoints. Materials and methods Nine different SWOARs were delineated according to five different delineation guidelines in 29 patients. Reference delineation was performed according to the guidelines and NTCP-models of Christianen et al. Concordance Index (CI), dosimetric consequences, as well as differences in the subsequent NTCPs were calculated. Results The median CI of the different delineation guidelines with the reference guidelines was 0.54 for the pharyngeal constrictor muscles, 0.56 for the laryngeal structures and 0.07 for the cricopharyngeal muscle and esophageal inlet muscle. The average difference in mean dose to the SWOARs between the guidelines with the largest difference (maxΔD) was 3.5 ± 3.2 Gy. A mean ΔNTCP of 2.3 ± 2.7% was found. For two patients, ΔNTCP exceeded 10%. Conclusions The majority of the patients showed little differences in NTCPs between the different delineation guidelines. However, large NTCP differences >10% were found in 7% of the patients. For correct use of NTCP models in individual patients, uniform delineation guidelines are of great importance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)148-152
Number of pages5
JournalRadiotherapy and oncology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Delineation guidelines
  • Head and neck
  • Interobserver variability
  • NTCP


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