Electron beam characteristics at extended source-to-surface distances for irregular cut-outs

J Med Phys. 2010 Oct;35(4):207-14. doi: 10.4103/0971-6203.71763.


Electron beam therapy is widely used in the management of cancers. The rapid dose fall-off and the short range of an electron beam enable the treatment of lesions close to the surface, while sparing the underlying tissues. In an extended source-to-surface (SSD) treatment with irregular field sizes defined by cerrobend cutouts, underdosage of the lateral tissue may occur due to reduced beam flatness and uniformity. To study the changes in the beam characteristics, the depth dose, beam profile, and isodose distributions were measured at different SSDs for regular 10 × 10 cm(2) and 15 × 15 cm(2) cone, and for irregular cutouts of field size 6.5 × 9 cm(2) and 11.5 × 15 cm(2) for beam energies ranging from 6 to 20 MeV. The PDD, beam flatness, symmetry and uniformity index were compared. For lower energy (6 MeV), there was no change in the depth of maximum dose (R100) as SSD increased, but for higher energy (20 MeV), the R(100) depth increased from 2 cm to 3 cm as SSD increased. This shows that as SSD increases there is an increase in the depth of the maximum dose for higher energy beams. There is a +7 mm shift in the R(100) depth when compared with regular and irregular field sizes. The symmetry was found to be within limits for all the field sizes as the treatment distance extended as per International Electro technical Commision (IEC) protocol. There was a loss of beam flatness for irregular fields and it was more pronounced for lower energies as compared with higher energies, so that the clinically useful isodose level (80% and 90%) width decreases with increase in SSD. This suggests that target coverage at extended SSD with irregular cut-outs may be inadequate unless relatively large fields are used.

Keywords: Cerrobend cutout; electron beam; flatness; isodose; uniformity index.