Rethinking the potential role of dose painting in personalized ultra-fractionated stereotactic adaptive radiotherapy Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Fractionated radiotherapy was established in the 1920s based upon two principles: (1) delivering daily treatments of equal quantity, unless the clinical situation requires adjustment, and (2) defining a specific treatment period to deliver a total dosage. Modern fractionated radiotherapy continues to adhere to these century-old principles, despite significant advancements in our understanding of radiobiology. At UT Southwestern, we are exploring a novel treatment approach called PULSAR (Personalized Ultra-Fractionated Stereotactic Adaptive Radiotherapy). This method involves administering tumoricidal doses in a pulse mode with extended intervals, typically spanning weeks or even a month. Extended intervals permit substantial recovery of normal tissues and afford the tumor and tumor microenvironment ample time to undergo significant changes, enabling more meaningful adaptation in response to the evolving characteristics of the tumor. The notion of dose painting in the realm of radiation therapy has long been a subject of contention. The debate primarily revolves around its clinical effectiveness and optimal methods of implementation. In this perspective, we discuss two facets concerning the potential integration of dose painting with PULSAR, along with several practical considerations. If successful, the combination of the two may not only provide another level of personal adaptation (“adaptive dose painting”), but also contribute to the establishment of a timely feedback loop throughout the treatment process. To substantiate our perspective, we conducted a fundamental modeling study focusing on PET-guided dose painting, incorporating tumor heterogeneity and tumor control probability (TCP).


  • Peng, Hao
  • Deng, Jie
  • Jiang, Steve
  • Timmerman, Robert

publication date

  • 2024