Volumetric decrease of pancreas after abdominal irradiation, it is time to consider pancreas as an organ at risk for radiotherapy planning
Şeşeoğulları, Özgür Ozan
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Background: Volumetric shrinkage of normal tissues such as salivary glands, kidneys, hippocampus are observed after radiotherapy. We aimed to assess the alterations in pancreatic volume of patients who received abdominal radiotherapy and define pancreas as an organ at risk for radiation treatment planning.Material-methodsForty-nine patients operated for gastric adenocarcinoma who received adjuvant abdominal radiotherapy were in the study group, 27 patients with early stage disease who did not need adjuvant treatment after surgery comprised the control group. An experienced radiologist contoured the pancreas of all the patients from computed tomographies imported to the planning system obtained either for radiation planning purpose or for follow-up after surgery. The same procedure was repeated one year later for both groups. Measured volume of the pancreas was expressed in cm(3).ResultsMean pancreatic volumes were similar in both groups at the onset of the study, 51,3420,33cm(3), and 50,12 +/- 23,75cm(3) in the irradiated and the control groups respectively (p=0,63). One year later, mean pancreatic volumes were significantly decreased in each group; 22,48 +/- 10,53cm(3), 44,18 +/- 23,08cm(3) respectively, p<0,001. However, the decrease in pancreatic volume was significantly more pronounced in the irradiated group in comparison to the control group, p<0,001.Conclusion Volumetric decrease in normal tissues after radiotherapy is responsible for loss of organ function and radiation related late side effects. Although pancreas is a radiation sensitive organ losing its volume and function after radiation exposure, it is not yet considered as an organ at risk for radiation treatment planning. Pancreas should be contoured as an organ at risk, dose-volume histogram for the organ should be created, and safe organ doses should be determined. This is the first study declaring pancreas as an organ at risk for radiation toxicity and the necessity of defining dose constraints for the organ.