BEAM: a Monte Carlo code to simulate radiotherapy treatment units

Med Phys. 1995 May;22(5):503-24. doi: 10.1118/1.597552.


This paper describes BEAM, a general purpose Monte Carlo code to simulate the radiation beams from radiotherapy units including high-energy electron and photon beams, 60Co beams and orthovoltage units. The code handles a variety of elementary geometric entities which the user puts together as needed (jaws, applicators, stacked cones, mirrors, etc.), thus allowing simulation of a wide variety of accelerators. The code is not restricted to cylindrical symmetry. It incorporates a variety of powerful variance reduction techniques such as range rejection, bremsstrahlung splitting and forcing photon interactions. The code allows direct calculation of charge in the monitor ion chamber. It has the capability of keeping track of each particle's history and using this information to score separate dose components (e.g., to determine the dose from electrons scattering off the applicator). The paper presents a variety of calculated results to demonstrate the code's capabilities. The calculated dose distributions in a water phantom irradiated by electron beams from the NRC 35 MeV research accelerator, a Varian Clinac 2100C, a Philips SL75-20, an AECL Therac 20 and a Scanditronix MM50 are all shown to be in good agreement with measurements at the 2 to 3% level. Eighteen electron spectra from four different commercial accelerators are presented and various aspects of the electron beams from a Clinac 2100C are discussed. Timing requirements and selection of parameters for the Monte Carlo calculations are discussed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Electrons
  • Humans
  • Models, Structural*
  • Monte Carlo Method*
  • Particle Accelerators*
  • Photons
  • Radiotherapy / methods*
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Scattering, Radiation