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Secondary Emission Detection for Improved Proton Relative Stopping Power Identification

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J Saunders

J Saunders*, B Musall , A Erickson , Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA


SU-E-J-149 (Sunday, July 12, 2015) 3:00 PM - 6:00 PM Room: Exhibit Hall

Purpose: This research investigates application of secondary prompt gamma (PG) emission spectra, resulting from nuclear reactions induced by protons, to characterize tissue composition along the particle path. The objective of utilizing the intensity of discrete high-energy peaks of PG is to improve the accuracy of relative stopping power (RSP) values available for proton therapy treatment planning on a patient specific basis and to reduce uncertainty in dose depth calculations.

Methods: In this research, MCNP6 was used to simulate PG emission spectra generated from proton induced nuclear reactions in medium of varying composition of carbon, oxygen, calcium and nitrogen, the predominant elements found in human tissue. The relative peak intensities at discrete energies predicted by MCNP6 were compared to the corresponding atomic composition of the medium.

Results: The results have shown a good general agreement with experimentally measured values reported by other investigators. Unexpected divergence from experimental spectra was noted in the peak intensities for some cases depending on the source of the cross-section data when using compiled proton table libraries vs. physics models built into MCNP6. While the use of proton cross-section libraries is generally recommended when available, these libraries lack data for several less abundant isotopes. This limits the range of their applicability and forces the simulations to rely on physics models for reactions with natural atomic compositions.

Conclusion: Current end-of-range proton imaging provides an average RSP for the total estimated track length. The accurate identification of tissue composition along the incident particle path using PG detection and characterization allows for improved determination of the tissue RSP on the local level. While this would allow for more accurate depth calculations resulting in tighter treatment margins, precise understanding of proton beam behavior in tissue of various compositions is necessary requiring detailed simulations with a high degree of accuracy.

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