Using MCNPX to calculate primary and secondary dose in proton therapy
Ryckman, Jeffrey M.
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Proton therapy is a relatively new treatment modality for cancer, having recently been incorporated into hospitals in the last two decades. Although proton therapy has much higher start up and treatment costs than traditional methods of radiotherapy, it continues to expand in use today. One reason for this is that proton therapy has the advantage of a more precise localization of dose compared to traditional radiotherapy. Other proposed advantages of proton therapy in the treatment of cancer may lead to a faster expanse in its use if proven to be more effective than traditional radiotherapy. Therefore, much research must be done to investigate the possible negative and positive effects of using proton therapy as a treatment modality. In proton therapy, protons do account for the vast majority of dose. However, when protons travel through matter, secondary particles are created by the interactions of protons and matter en route to and within the patient. It is believed that secondary dose can lead to secondary cancer, especially in pediatric cases. Therefore, the focus of this work is determining both primary and secondary dose. In order to develop relevant simulations, the specifications of the treatment room and beam were based off of real-world facilities as closely as possible. Using available data from proton accelerators and clinical facilities, an accurate proton therapy nozzle was designed. Dose calculations were performed by MCNPX using a simple water phantom, and then beam characteristics were investigated to ensure the accuracy of the model. After validation of the beam nozzle, primary and secondary dose values were tabulated and discussed. By demonstrating the method of these calculations, the purpose of this work is to serve as a guide into the relatively recent field of Monte Carlo methods in proton therapy.