Publication Details

This article was originally published as Wroe, AJ, Cornelius, IM and Rosenfeld, AB, The role of nonelastic reactions in absorbed dose distributions from therapeutic proton beams in different medium, Medical Physics, 32(1), January 2005, 37. Copyright American Association of Physicists in Medicine. Original journal available here.


Many new techniques for delivering radiation therapy are being developed for the treatment of cancer. One of these, proton therapy, is becoming increasingly popular because of the precise way in which protons deliver dose to the tumor volume. In order to achieve this level of precision, extensive treatment planning needs to be carried out to determine the optimum beam energies, energy spread (which determines the width of the spread-out Bragg peak), and angles for each patient’s treatment. Due to the level of precision required and advancements in computer technology, there is increasing interest in the use of Monte Carlo calculations for treatment planning in proton therapy. However, in order to achieve optimum simulation times, nonelastic nuclear interactions between protons and the target nucleus within the patient’s internal structure are often not accounted for or are simulated using less accurate models such as analytical or ray tracing. These interactions produce high LET particles such as neutrons, alpha particles, and recoil protons, which affect the dose distribution and biological effectiveness of the beam. This situation has prompted an investigation of the importance of nonelastic products on depth dose distributions within various materials including water, A-150 tissue equivalent plastic, ICRP (International Commission on Radiological Protection) muscle, ICRP bone, and ICRP adipose. This investigation was conducted utilizing the GEANT4.5.2 Monte Carlo hadron transport toolkit.

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