Open Access Research

Designed-seamless irradiation technique for extended whole mediastinal proton-beam irradiation for esophageal cancer

Noriyuki Okonogi12*, Takatuki Hashimoto1, Masaya Ishida1, Toshiki Ohno1, Toshiyuki Terunuma1, Toshiyuki Okumura1, Takeji Sakae1 and Hideyuki Sakurai1

Author Affiliations

1 Proton Medical Research Center, and Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Tsukuba, 1-1-1 Tennodai, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8575, Japan

2 Department of Radiation Oncology, Gunma University Graduate School of Medicine, 3-39-22 Showa-machi, Maebashi, Gunma, 371-8511, Japan

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Radiation Oncology 2012, 7:173  doi:10.1186/1748-717X-7-173

Published: 19 October 2012



Proton-beam therapy (PBT) provides therapeutic advantages over conformal x-ray therapy in sparing organs at risk when treating esophageal cancer because of the fundamental physical dose distribution of the proton-beam. However, cases with extended esophageal lesions are difficult to treat with conventional PBT with a single isocentric field, as the length of the planning target volume (PTV) is longer than the available PBT field size in many facilities. In this study, the feasibility of a practical technique to effectively match PBT fields for esophageal cancer with a larger regional field beyond the available PBT field size was investigated.


Twenty esophageal cancer patients with a larger regional field than the available PBT single-field size (15 cm in our facility) were analyzed. The PTV was divided into two sections to be covered by a single PBT field. Subsequently, each PTV isocenter was aligned in a cranial-caudal (CC) axis to rule out any influence by the movement of the treatment couch in anterior-posterior and left-right directions. To obtain the appropriate dose distributions, a designed-seamless irradiation technique (D-SLIT) was proposed. This technique requires the following two adjustments: (A) blocking a part of the PTV by multi-leaf collimator(s) (MLCs); and (B) fine-tuning the isocenter distance by the half-width of the MLC leaf (2.5 mm in our facility). After these steps, the inferior border of the cranial field was designed to match the superior border of the caudal field. Dose distributions along the CC axis around the field junction were evaluated by the treatment-planning system. Dose profiles were validated with imaging plates in all cases.


The average and standard deviation of minimum dose, maximum dose, and dose range between maximum and minimum doses around the field junction by the treatment-planning system were 95.9 ± 3.2%, 105.3 ± 4.1%, and 9.4 ± 5.2%. The dose profile validated by the imaging plate correlated with the results of the treatment-planning system in each case, with an error range within 4.3%.


Dose distributions around the field junction were applied using D-SLIT. D-SLIT can be a useful treatment strategy for PBT of extended esophageal cancer.

Proton-beam therapy; Esophageal cancer; Matching field