Monte Carlo dose calculations for spot scanned proton therapy
Density heterogeneities can have a profound effect on dose distributions for proton therapy. Although analytical calculations in homogeneous media are relatively straightforward, the modelling of the propagation of the beam through density heterogeneities can be more problematical. At the Paul Scherrer Institute, an in-house dedicated Monte Carlo (MC) code has been used for over a decade to assess the possible deficiencies of the analytical calculations in patient geometries. The MC code has been optimized for speed, and as such traces primary protons only through the treatment nozzle and patient's CT. Contributions from nuclear interactions are modelled analytically with no tracing of secondary particles. The MC code has been verified against measured data in water and experimental proton radiographs through a heterogeneous anthropomorphic phantom. In comparison to the analytical calculation, the MC code has been applied to both spot scanned and intensity modulated proton therapy plans, and to a number of cases containing titanium metal implants. In summary, MC-based dose calculations could provide an invaluable tool for independently verifying the calculated dose distribution within a patient geometry as part of a comprehensive quality assurance protocol for proton treatment plans.