A Monte Carlo model for out-of-field dose calculation from high-energy photon therapy



As cancer therapy becomes more efficacious and patients survive longer, the potential for late effects increases, including effects induced by radiation dose delivered away from the treatment site. This out-of-field radiation is of particular concern with high-energy radiotherapy, as neutrons are produced in the accelerator head. We recently developed an accurate Monte Carlo model of a Varian 2100 accelerator using MCNPX for calculating the dose away from the treatment field resulting from low-energy therapy. In this study, we expanded and validated our Monte Carlo model for high-energy (18 MV) photon therapy, including both photons and neutrons. Simulated out-of-field photon doses were compared with measurements made with thermoluminescent dosimeters in an acrylic phantom up to 55 cm from the central axis. Simulated neutron fluences and energy spectra were compared with measurements using moderated gold foil activation in moderators and data from the literature. The average local difference between the calculated and measured photon dose was 17%, including doses as low as 0.01% of the central axis dose. The out-of-field photon dose varied substantially with field size and distance from the edge of the field but varied little with depth in the phantom, except at depths shallower than 3 cm, where the dose sharply increased. On average, the difference between the simulated and measured neutron fluences was 19% and good agreement was observed with the neutron spectra. The neutron dose equivalent varied little with field size or distance from the central axis but decreased with depth in the phantom. Neutrons were the dominant component of the out-of-field dose equivalent for shallow depths and large distances from the edge of the treatment field. This Monte Carlo model is useful to both physicists and clinicians when evaluating out-of-field doses and associated potential risks.