Inter-observer variation of target volume delineation for CT-guided cervical cancer brachytherapy

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Journal of Contemporary Brachytherapy, vol.15, no.4, pp.253-260, 2023 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 15 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.5114/jcb.2023.131242
  • Journal Name: Journal of Contemporary Brachytherapy
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.253-260
  • Keywords: brachytherapy, cervical cancer, inter-observer variability, target volume delineation
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose: Delineation is a critical and challenging step in radiotherapy planning. Differences in delineation among observers are common, despite the presence of contouring guidelines. This study aimed to identify the inter-observer variability in the target volume delineation of computed tomography (CT)-guided brachytherapy for cervical cancer. Material and methods: Four radiation oncologists (ROs) with different expertise levels delineated high-risk (HR) and intermediate-risk (IR) clinical target volume (CTV) according to GYN GEC-ESTRO recommendations, in a blinded manner on every CT set of ten locally advanced cervical cancer cases. The most experienced RO's contours were determined as the index and used for comparison. Dice similarity coefficient (DSC) and pairwise Hausdorff distance (HD) metrics were applied to compare the overlap and gross deviations of all contours. Results: Median DSC for HR-CTV and IR-CTV were 0.73 and 0.76, respectively, and a good concordance was achieved for both in majority of contours. While there was no difference in DSC measurements for HR-CTV among the three ROs, RO-3 provided improved DSC values for IR-CTV (p = 0.01). Median HD95 was 5.02 mm and 6.83 mm, and median HDave was 1.69 mm and 2.21 mm for HR-CTV and IR-CTV, respectively. There was no significant difference among ROs in HR-CTV for HD95 or HDave; however, IR-CTV value was significantly improved according to RO-3 (p = 0.01). Case-by-case HD analysis showed no significant inter-observer variations, except for two cases. Conclusions: The inter-observer agreement is generally high for target volumes in CT-guided brachytherapy for cervical cancer. The agreement is lower for IR-CTV than HR-CTV. The individual characteristics of each case and different expertise levels of the ROs may have caused the differences. Despite the good concordance for delineation, dosimetric consequences can still be clinically significant.