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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

An investigation of intensity-modulated radiation therapy versus conventional two-dimensional and 3D-conformal radiation therapy for early stage larynx cancer

Daniel Gomez1*, Oren Cahlon1, James Mechalakos2 and Nancy Lee1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Radiation Oncology, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

2 Department of Medical Physics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, NY, USA

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Radiation Oncology 2010, 5:74  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-5-74

Published: 26 August 2010



Intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) has been incorporated at several institutions for early stage laryngeal cancer (T1/T2N0M0), but its utility is controversial.


In three representative patients, multiple plans were generated: 1) Conventional 2D planning, with the posterior border placed at either the anterior aspect ("tight" plan) or the mid-vertebral body ("loose" plan), 2) 3D planning, utilizing both 1.0 and 0.5 cm margins for the planning target volume (PTV), and 3) IMRT planning, utilizing the same margins as the 3D plans. A dosimetric comparison was performed for the target volume, spinal cord, arytenoids, and carotid arteries. The prescription dose was 6300 cGy (225 cGy fractions), and the 3D and IMRT plans were normalized to this dose.


For PTV margins of 1.0 cm and 0.5 cm, the D95 of the 2D tight/loose plans were 3781/5437 cGy and 5372/5869 cGy, respectively (IMRT/3D plans both 6300 cGy). With a PTV margin of 1.0 cm, the mean carotid artery dose was 2483/5671/5777/4049 cGy in the 2D tight, 2D loose, 3D, and IMRT plans, respectively. When the PTV was reduced to 0.5 cm, the the mean carotid artery dose was 2483/5671/6466/2577 cGy to the above four plans, respectively. The arytenoid doses were similar between the four plans, and spinal cord doses were well below tolerance.


IMRT provides a more ideal dose distribution compared to 2D treatment and 3D planning in regards to mean carotid dose. We therefore recommend IMRT in select cases when the treating physician is confident with the GTV.