Fiber-optic dosimeters for radiation therapy
According to the figures provided by the World Health Organization, cancer is a leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Radiation therapy, which uses x-rays to destroy or injure cancer cells, has become one of the most important modalities to treat the primary cancer or advanced cancer. The newly developed microbeam radiation therapy (MRT), which uses highly collimated, quasi-parallel arrays of x-ray microbeams (typically 50 μm wide and separated by 400 μm) produced by synchrotron sources, represents a new paradigm in radiotherapy and has shown great promise in pre-clinical studies on different animal models. Measurements of the absorbed dose distribution of microbeams are vitally important for clinical acceptance of MRT and for developing quality assurance systems for MRT, hence are a challenging and important task for radiation dosimetry. On the other hand, during the traditional LINAC based radiotherapy and breast cancer brachytherapy, skin dose measurements and treatment planning also require a high spatial resolution, tissue equivalent, on-line dosimeter that is both economical and highly reliable. Such a dosimeter currently does not exist and remains a challenge in the development of radiation dosimetry. High resolution, water equivalent, optical and passive x-ray dosimeters have been developed and constructed by using plastic scintillators and optical fibers. The dosimeters have peak edge-on spatial resolutions ranging from 50 to 500 microns in one dimension, with a 10 micron resolution dosimeter under development. The developed fiber-optic dosimeters have been test with both LINAC and synchrotron x-ray beams. This work demonstrates that water-equivalent and high spatial resolution radiation detection can be achieved with scintillators and optical fiber systems. Among other advantages, the developed fiber-optic probes are also passive, energy independent, and radiation hard.