The development and validation of a Monte Carlo model for calculating the out -of -field dose from radiotherapy treatments

Stephen Kry, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Introduction. External beam photon radiotherapy is a common treatment for many malignancies, but results in the exposure of the patient to radiation away from the treatment site. This out-of-field radiation irradiates healthy tissue and may lead to the induction of secondary malignancies. Out-of-field radiation is composed of photons and, at high treatment energies, neutrons. Measurement of this out-of-field dose is time consuming, often difficult, and is specific to the conditions of the measurements. Monte Carlo simulations may be a viable approach to determining the out-of-field dose quickly, accurately, and for arbitrary irradiation conditions. Methods. An accelerator head, gantry, and treatment vault were modeled with MCNPX and 6 MV and 18 MV beams were simulated. Photon doses were calculated in-field and compared to measurements made with an ion chamber in a water tank. Photon doses were also calculated out-of-field from static fields and compared to measurements made with thermoluminescent dosimeters in acrylic. Neutron fluences were calculated and compared to measurements made with gold foils. Finally, photon and neutron dose equivalents were calculated in an anthropomorphic phantom following intensity-modulated radiation therapy and compared to previously published dose equivalents. Results. The Monte Carlo model was able to accurately calculate the in-field dose. From static treatment fields, the model was also able to calculate the out-of-field photon dose within 16% at 6 MV and 17% at 18 MV and the neutron fluence within 19% on average. From the simulated IMRT treatments, the calculated out-of-field photon dose was within 14% of measurement at 6 MV and 13% at 18 MV on average. The calculated neutron dose equivalent was much lower than the measured value but is likely accurate because the measured neutron dose equivalent was based on an overestimated neutron energy. Based on the calculated out-of-field doses generated by the Monte Carlo model, it was possible to estimate the risk of fatal secondary malignancy, which was consistent with previous estimates except for the neutron discrepancy. Conclusions. The Monte Carlo model developed here is well suited to studying the out-of-field dose equivalent from photons and neutrons under a variety of irradiation configurations, including complex treatments on complex phantoms. Based on the calculated dose equivalents, it is possible to estimate the risk of secondary malignancy associated with out-of-field doses. The Monte Carlo model should be used to study, quantify, and minimize the out-of-field dose equivalent and associated risks received by patients undergoing radiation therapy.

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Recommended Citation

Kry, Stephen, "The development and validation of a Monte Carlo model for calculating the out -of -field dose from radiotherapy treatments" (2007). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3256551.