A pencil beam algorithm for protons including magnetic fields effects
Fatima Padilla Cabal, a PhD student at the medical radiation physics workgroup received the ESTRO BEST POSTER AWARD at the annual conference of the european society of radiotherapy and oncology (ESTRO 36) taking place on 5-9th of May in Vienna.
The interest shown in her work at one of the biggest international radiation therapy conferences further emphasizes the potential benefits of combining on-line MR guidance with advanced in ion beam therapy for cancer treatment.
During the last years, the development of hybrid photon radiation delivery systems based on high quality imaging using Magnetic Resonance (MR) showed promising results. The launch of two commercial treatment machines, the MRIdian® by ViewRay, and more recently the Elekta Unity system, notably increase the interest of the research community in MR guidance for external beam therapy.
Considering the benefits that MR could bring to ion beam therapy, fundamental questions on the possibility of MR-guided proton beam therapy are addressed more and more frequently. One main challenge that needs to be overcome, is the modification of dose calculation algorithms to account for beam deflections caused by magnetic fields. So far only a very limited number of scientific publications focusing on Monte Carlo (MC) simulations described corrections for beam delivery and dose distributions. However, the time required for such simulations is too long to allow this approach to be used in clinical practice. The main objective of the presented research was to develop a semi-analytical dose calculation algorithm, based on pencil beam kernels, fast and accurate enough to allow further implementation in a treatment planning system. The first validation stage, using MC simulations on homogeneous and heterogeneous calibration phantoms showed encouraging results and envisaged future validation stages on more complex geometries and material compositions, as well as performing experimental measurements.
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