SU-E-T-78: Comparison of Dose-Averaged Linear Energy Transfer Calculation Methods Used in Monte Carlo Simulations of Clinical Proton Beams




To evaluate the differences in dose-averaged linear energy transfer (LETd) maps calculated in water by means of different strategies found in the literature in proton therapy Monte Carlo simulations and to compare their values with dose-mean lineal energy microdosimetry calculations.


The Geant4 toolkit (version 9.6.2) was used. Dose and LETd maps in water were scored for primary protons with cylindrical voxels defined around the beam axis. Three LETd calculation methods were implemented. First, the LETd values were computed by calculating the unrestricted linear energy transfer (LET) associated to each single step weighted by the energy deposition (including delta-rays) along the step. Second, the LETd was obtained for each voxel by computing the LET along all the steps simulated for each proton track within the voxel, weighted by the energy deposition of those steps. Third, the LETd was scored as the quotient between the second momentum of the LET distribution, calculated per proton track, over the first momentum. These calculations were made with various voxel thicknesses (0.2 – 2.0 mm) for a 160 MeV proton beamlet and spread-out Bragg Peaks (SOBP). The dose-mean lineal energy was calculated in a uniformly-irradiated water sphere, 0.005 mm radius.


The value of the LETd changed systematically with the voxel thickness due to delta-ray emission and the enlargement of the LET distribution spread, especially at shallow depths. Differences of up to a factor 1.8 were found at the depth of maximum dose, leading to similar differences at the central and distal depths of the SOBPs. The third LETd calculation method gave better agreement with microdosimetry calculations around the Bragg Peak.


Significant differences were found between LETd map Monte Carlo calculations due to both the calculation strategy and the voxel thickness used. This could have a significant impact in radiobiologically-optimized proton therapy treatments.