A risk-based modeling approach for radiation therapy treatment planning under tumor shrinkage uncertainty

Gino J. Lim, Laleh Kardar, Saba Ebrahimi, Wenhua Cao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Robust optimization approaches have been widely used to address uncertainties in radiation therapy treatment planning problems. Because of the unknown probability distribution of uncertainties, robust bounds may not be correctly chosen, and a risk of undesirable effects from worst-case realizations may exist. In this study, we developed a risk-based robust approach, embedded within the conditional value-at-risk representation of the dose-volume constraint, to deal with tumor shrinkage uncertainty during radiation therapy. The objective of our proposed model is to reduce dose variability in the worst-case scenarios as well as the total delivered dose to healthy tissues and target dose deviations from the prescribed dose, especially, in underdosed scenarios. We also took advantage of adaptive radiation therapy in our treatment planning approach. This fractionation technique considers the response of the tumor to treatment up to a particular point in time and reoptimizes the treatment plan using an estimate of tumor shrinkage. The benefits of our model were tested in a clinical lung cancer case. Four plans were generated and compared: static, nominal-adaptive, robust-adaptive, and conventional robust (worst-case) optimization. Our results showed that the robust-adaptive model, which is a risk-based model, achieved less dose variability and more control on the worst-case scenarios while delivering the prescribed dose to the tumor target and sparing organs at risk. This model also outperformed other models in terms of tumor dose homogeneity and plan robustness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-278
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Operational Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020


  • CVaR
  • OR in medicine
  • Radiation therapy planning
  • Risk management
  • Tumor shrinkage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Information Systems and Management

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