Impact of dose engine algorithm in pencil beam scanning proton therapy for breast cancer

Phys Med. 2018 Jun:50:7-12. doi: 10.1016/j.ejmp.2018.05.018. Epub 2018 May 26.


Purpose: Proton therapy for the treatment of breast cancer is acquiring increasing interest, due to the potential reduction of radiation-induced side effects such as cardiac and pulmonary toxicity. While several in silico studies demonstrated the gain in plan quality offered by pencil beam scanning (PBS) compared to passive scattering techniques, the related dosimetric uncertainties have been poorly investigated so far.

Methods: Five breast cancer patients were planned with Raystation 6 analytical pencil beam (APB) and Monte Carlo (MC) dose calculation algorithms. Plans were optimized with APB and then MC was used to recalculate dose distribution. Movable snout and beam splitting techniques (i.e. using two sub-fields for the same beam entrance, one with and the other without the use of a range shifter) were considered. PTV dose statistics were recorded. The same planning configurations were adopted for the experimental benchmark. Dose distributions were measured with a 2D array of ionization chambers and compared to APB and MC calculated ones by means of a γ analysis (agreement criteria 3%, 3 mm).

Results: Our results indicate that, when using proton PBS for breast cancer treatment, the Raystation 6 APB algorithm does not allow obtaining sufficient accuracy, especially with large air gaps. On the contrary, the MC algorithm resulted into much higher accuracy in all beam configurations tested and has to be recommended.

Conclusions: Centers where a MC algorithm is not yet available should consider a careful use of APB, possibly combined with a movable snout system or in any case with strategies aimed at minimizing air gaps.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Monte carlo; Pencil beam scanning; Proton therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Breast Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Proton Therapy / methods*
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted