The role of delineation education programs for improving interobserver variability in target volume delineation in gastric cancer
Guler, Ozan C.
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Objective: To assess whether delineation courses for radiation oncologists improve interobserver variability in target volume delineation for post-operative gastric cancer radiotherapy planning. Methods: 29 radiation oncologists delineated target volumes in a gastric cancer patient. An experienced radiation oncologist lectured about delineation based on contouring atlas and delineation recommendations. After the course, the radiation oncologists, blinded to the previous delineation, provided delineation for the same patient. Results: The difference between delineated volumes and reference volumes for pre-and post-course clinical target volume (CTV) were 19.8% (-42.4 to 70.6%) and 12.3% (-12.0 to 27.3%) (p = 0.26), respectively. The planning target volume (PTV) differences pre-and post-course according to the reference volume were 20.5% (-40.7 to 93.7%) and 13.1% (-10.6 to 29.5%) (p = 0.30), respectively. The concordance volumes between the pre-and post-course CTVs and PTVs were 467.1 +/- 89.2 vs 597.7 +/- 54.6cm(3) (p < 0.001) and 738.6 +/- 135.1 vs 893.2 +/- 144.6 cm(3) (p < 0.001), respectively. Minimum and maximum observer variations were seen at the cranial part and splenic hilus and at the caudal part of the CTV. The kappa indices compared with the reference contouring at pre- and post-course delineations were 0.68 and 0.82, respectively. Conclusion: The delineation course improved interobserver variability for gastric cancer. However, impact of target volume changes on toxicity and local control should be evaluated for further studies. Advances in knowledge: This study demonstrated that a delineation course based on current recommendations helped physicians delineate smaller and more homogeneous target volumes. Better target volume delineation allows proper target volume irradiation and preventing unnecessary normal tissue irradiation.