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Ambient Dose Equivalent Versus Effective Dose for Quantifying Stray Radiation Exposures to a Patient Receiving Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Jonas D. Fontenot, Phillip Taddei, Yuanshui Zheng, Dragan Mirkovic, Wayne D. Newhauser

Nuclear Technology

Volume 168 / Number 1 / October 2009 / Pages 173-177


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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the suitability of the quantity ambient dose equivalent H*(10) as a conservative estimate of effective dose E for estimating stray radiation exposures to patients receiving passively scattered proton radiotherapy for cancer of the prostate. H*(10), which is determined from fluence free-in-air, is potentially useful because it is simpler to measure or calculate because it avoids the complexities associated with phantoms or patient anatomy. However, the suitability of H*(10) as a surrogate for E has not been demonstrated for exposures to high-energy neutrons emanating from radiation treatments with proton beams. The suitability was tested by calculating H*(10) and E for a proton treatment using a Monte Carlo model of a double-scattering treatment machine and a computerized anthropomorphic phantom. The calculated E for the simulated treatment was 5.5 mSv/Gy, while the calculated H*(10) at the isocenter was 10 mSv/Gy. A sensitivity analysis revealed that H*(10) conservatively estimated E for the interval of treatment parameters common in proton therapy for prostate cancer. However, sensitivity analysis of a broader interval of parameters suggested that H*(10) may underestimate E for treatments of other sites, particularly those that require large field sizes. Simulations revealed that while E was predominated by neutrons generated in the nozzle, neutrons produced in the patient contributed up to 40% to dose equivalent in near-field organs.

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