A split feasibility formulation for the inverse problem of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) treatment planning with dose-volume constraints (DVCs) included in the planning algorithm is presented. It involves a new type of sparsity constraint that enables the inclusion of a percentage-violation constraint in the model problem and its handling by continuous (as opposed to integer) methods. We propose an iterative algorithmic framework for solving such a problem by applying the feasibility-seeking CQ-algorithm of Byrne combined with the automatic relaxation method (ARM) that uses cyclic projections. Detailed implementation instructions are furnished. Functionality of the algorithm was demonstrated through the creation of an intensity-modulated proton therapy plan for a simple 2D C-shaped geometry and also for a realistic base-of-skull chordoma treatment site. Monte Carlo simulations of proton pencil beams of varying energy were conducted to obtain dose distributions for the 2D test case. A research release of the Pinnacle3 proton treatment planning system was used to extract pencil beam doses for a clinical base-of-skull chordoma case. In both cases the beamlet doses were calculated to satisfy dose-volume constraints according to our new algorithm. Examination of the dose-volume histograms following inverse planning with our algorithm demonstrated that it performed as intended. The application of our proposed algorithm to dose-volume constraint inverse planning was successfully demonstrated. Comparison with optimized dose distributions from the research release of the Pinnacle3 treatment planning system showed the algorithm could achieve equivalent or superior results.
Technical report, July 10, 2016; Revised January 10, 2017. Physics in Medicine and Biology, accepted for publication.