Experimental characterization of the low-dose envelope of spot scanning proton beams.

Department of Radiation Physics, The University of Texas M D Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Houston, TX 77030, USA.
Physics in Medicine and Biology (Impact Factor: 2.92). 06/2010; 55(12):3467-78. DOI: 10.1088/0031-9155/55/12/013
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT In scanned proton beam radiotherapy, multiple pencil beams are used to deliver the total dose to the target volume. Because the number of such beams can be very large, an accurate dosimetric characterization of every single pencil beam is important to provide adequate input data for the configuration of the treatment planning system. In this work, we present a method to measure the low-dose envelope of single pencil beams, known to play a meaningful role in the dose computation for scanned proton beams. We measured the low-dose proton beam envelope, which extends several centimeters outwards from the center of each single pencil beam, by acquiring lateral dose profile data, down to relative dose levels that were a factor of 10(4) lower than the central axis dose. The overall effect of the low-dose envelope on the total dose delivered by multiple pencil beams was determined by measuring the dose output as a function of field size. We determined that the low-dose envelope can be influential even for fields as large as 20 cm x 20 cm.

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    ABSTRACT: The dose distribution of a pencil beam in a water tank consists of a core, a halo and an aura. The core consists of primary protons which suffer multiple Coulomb scattering (MCS) and slow down by multiple collisions with atomic electrons (Bethe-Bloch theory). The halo consists of charged secondaries, many of them protons, from elastic interactions with H, elastic and inelastic interactions with O, and nonelastic interactions with O. We show that the halo radius is roughly one third of the beam range. The aura consists of neutral secondaries (neutrons and gamma rays) and the charged particles they set in motion. We have measured the core/halo at 177 MeV using a test beam offset in a water tank. The beam monitor was a plane parallel ionization chamber (IC) and the field IC a dose calibrated Exradin T1. Our dose measurements are absolute. We took depth-dose scans at ten displacements from the beam axis ranging from 0 to 10 cm. The dose spans five orders of magnitude, and the transition from halo to aura is obvious. We present model-dependent (MD) and model-independent (MI) fits to these data. The MD fit has 25 parameters, and the goodness of fit (rms (measurement/fit) - 1) is 15%. The MI fit uses cubic spline fits in depth and radius. The goodness of fit is 9%. This fit is more portable and conceptually simpler. We discuss the prevalent parameterization of the core/halo originated by Pedroni et al. [1]. We argue that its use of T(w), a mass stopping power which includes energy deposited by nuclear secondaries, is incorrect. The electromagnetic (Bethe-Bloch) mass stopping power should be used instead. In consequence, 'Bragg peak chamber' measurements and associated corrections are, in our opinion, irrelevant. Furthermore, using T(w) leads to spurious excess dose on the axis of the core around midrange, which may be significant in fields involving relatively few pencil beams.
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