PMID: 11931469Apr 5, 2002

Nuclear interactions in proton therapy: dose and relative biological effect distributions originating from primary and secondary particles

Physics in Medicine and Biology
H Paganetti


The dose distribution delivered in charged particle therapy is due to both primary and secondary particles. The secondaries, originating from non-elastic nuclear interactions, are of interest for three reasons. First, if fast Monte Carlo treatment planning is envisaged, the question arises whether all nuclear interaction products deliver a significant contribution to the total dose and, hence, need to be tracked. Second, there could be an enhanced relative biological effectiveness (RBE) due to low energy and/or heavy secondaries. Third, neutrons originating from nuclear interactions may deliver dose outside the target volume. The particle yield from different nuclear interaction channels as a function of proton penetration depth was studied theoretically for different proton beam energies. Three-dimensional dose distributions from primary and secondary particles were simulated for an unmodulated 160 MeV proton beam with and without including a slice of bone material and for a spread-out Bragg peak (SOBP) of 3 x 3 x 3 cm3 in water. Secondary protons deliver up to 10% of the total dose proximal to the Bragg peak of an unmodulated proton beam and they affect the flatness of the SOBP. Furthermore, they cause a dose build-up due to ...Continue Reading


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