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Integration and evaluation of automated Monte Carlo simulations in the clinical practice of scanned proton and carbon ion beam therapy.

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      Monte Carlo (MC) simulations of beam interaction and transport in matter are increasingly considered as essential tools to support several aspects of radiation therapy. Despite the vast application of MC to photon therapy and scattered proton therapy, clinical experience in scanned ion beam therapy is still scarce. This is especially the case for ions heavier than protons, which pose additional issues like nuclear fragmentation and varying biological effectiveness. In this work, we present the evaluation of a dedicated framework which has been developed at the Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Center to provide automated FLUKA MC simulations of clinical patient treatments with scanned proton and carbon ion beams. Investigations on the number of transported primaries and the dimension of the geometry and scoring grids have been performed for a representative class of patient cases in order to provide recommendations on the simulation settings, showing that recommendations derived from the experience in proton therapy cannot be directly translated to the case of carbon ion beams. The MC results with the optimized settings have been compared to the calculations of the analytical treatment planning system (TPS), showing that regardless of the consistency of the two systems (in terms of beam model in water and range calculation in different materials) relevant differences can be found in dosimetric quantities and range, especially in the case of heterogeneous and deep seated treatment sites depending on the ion beam species and energies, homogeneity of the traversed tissue and size of the treated volume. The analysis of typical TPS speed-up approximations highlighted effects which deserve accurate treatment, in contrast to adequate beam model simplifications for scanned ion beam therapy. In terms of biological dose calculations, the investigation of the mixed field components in realistic anatomical situations confirmed the findings of previous groups so far reported only in homogenous water targets. This work can thus be useful to other centers commencing clinical experience in scanned ion beam therapy.

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      [1 ] Heidelberg Ion Beam Therapy Center, Im Neuenheimer Feld 450, Heidelberg, Germany. Department of Radiation Oncology, Heidelberg University Clinic, Im Neuenheimer Feld 400, Heidelberg, Germany.
      Phys Med Biol
      Physics in medicine and biology
      Aug 21 2014
      : 59
      : 16


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