Uncertainties in volume delineation in radiation oncology: A systematic review and recommendations for future studies
Background and purpose: Volume delineation is a well-recognised potential source of error in radiotherapy. Whilst it is important to quantify the degree of interobserver variability (IOV) in volume delineation, the resulting impact on dosimetry and clinical outcomes is a more relevant endpoint. We performed a literature review of studies evaluating IOV in target volume and organ-at-risk (OAR) delineation in order to analyse these with respect to the metrics used, reporting of dosimetric consequences, and use of statistical tests. Methods and materials: Medline and Pubmed databases were queried for relevant articles using keywords. We included studies published in English between 2000 and 2014 with more than two observers. Results: 119 studies were identified covering all major tumour sites. CTV (n=47) and GTV (n=38) were most commonly contoured. Median number of participants and data sets were 7 (3-50) and 9 (1-132) respectively. There was considerable heterogeneity in the use of metrics and methods of analysis. Statistical analysis of results was reported in 68% (n=81) and dosimetric consequences in 21% (n=25) of studies. Conclusion: There is a lack of consistency in conducting and reporting analyses from IOV studies. We suggest a framework to use for future studies evaluating IOV.