A comparison of X-ray and proton beam low energy secondary electron track structures using the low energy models of Geant4
"Purpose: Lethal cell damage by ionising radiation is generally initiated by the formation of complex strand breaks, resulting from ionisation clusters in the DNA molecule. A better understanding of the effect of the distribution of ionisation clusters within the cell and particularly in regard to DNA segments could be beneficial to radiation therapy treatment planning. Low energy X-rays generate an abundance of low energy electrons similar to that associated with MeV protons. The study and comparison of the track structure of photon and proton beams could permit the substitution of photon microbeams for single cell ion irradiations at proton facilities used to predict the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of charged particle fields. Materials and methods: The track structure of X-ray photons is compared with proton pencil beams in voxels of approximate DNA strand size (2 x 2 x 5 nm). The Very Low Energy extension models of the Monte Carlo simulation toolkit GEometry ANd Tracking 4 (Geant4) is used. Simulations were performed in a water phantom for an X-ray and proton beam of energies 100 keV and 20 MeV, respectively. Results: The track structure of the photon and proton beams are evaluated using the ionisation cluster size distribution as well as the radial dose deposition of the beam. Conclusions: A comparative analysis of the ionisation cluster distribution and radial dose deposition obtained is presented, which suggest that low energy X-rays could produce similar ionisation cluster distributions to MeV protons on the DNA scale of size at depths greater than similar to 10 mu m and at distances greater than similar to 1 mu m from the beam centre. Here the ionisation cluster size for each beam is less than similar to 100. The radial dose deposition is also approximately equal at large depths and at distances greater than 10 mu m from the beam centre."