Background: The validity of the linear-quadratic (LQ) model at high doses has been questioned due to a decreasing agreement between predicted survival and experimental cell survival data. A frequently proposed alternative is the universal survival curve (USC) model, thought to provide a better fit in the high-dose region. The comparison between the predictions of the models has mostly been performed for uniform populations of cells with respect to sensitivity to radiation. This study aimed to compare the two models in terms of cell survival and tumour control probability (TCP) for cell populations with mixed sensitivities related to their oxygenation.
Methods: The study was performed in two parts. For the first part, cell survival curves were calculated with both models assuming various homogeneous populations of cells irradiated with uniform doses. For the second part, a realistic 3D-model of complex tumour oxygenation was used to study the impact of the differences in cell survival on the modelled tumour control probability. Cellular response was assessed with the LQ and USC models at voxel level and a Poisson TCP model at tumour level.
Results: For hypoxic tumours, the disputed continuous bend of the LQ survival curve was counteracted by the increased radio-resistance of the hypoxic cells and the survival curves started to diverge only at much higher doses than for oxic tumours. This was also reflected by the TCP curves for hypoxic tumours for which the difference in D50 values for the LQ and USC models was reduced from 5.4 to 0.2 Gy for 1 and 3 fractions respectively in a tumour with only 1.1% hypoxia and from 9.5 to 0.4 Gy in a tumour with 11.1% hypoxia.
Conclusions: For a large range of fractional doses including hypofractionated schemes, the difference in predicted survival and tumour control probability between the LQ and USC models for tumours with heterogeneous oxygenation was found to be negligible.
Informa Healthcare, 2014. Vol. 53, no 8, 1035-1040 p.