Computational and experimental dosimetry
Experimental evaluation of neutron dose in radiotherapy patients: Which dose?
The evaluation of peripheral dose has become a relevant issue recently, in particular, the contribution of secondary neutrons. However, after the revision of the Recommendations of the International Commission on Radiological Protection, there has been a lack of experimental procedure for its evaluation. Specifically, the problem comes from the replacement of organ dose equivalent by the organ-equivalent dose, being the latter “immeasurable” by definition. Therefore, dose equivalent has to be still used although it needs the calculation of the radiation quality factor Q, which depends on the unrestricted linear energy transfer, for the specific neutron irradiation conditions. On the other hand, equivalent dose is computed through the radiation weighting factor wR, which can be easily calculated using the continuous function provided by the recommendations. The aim of the paper is to compare the dose equivalent evaluated following the definition, that is, using Q, with the values obtained by replacing the quality factor with wR.
Dose equivalents were estimated in selected points inside a phantom. Two types of medical environments were chosen for the irradiations: a photon- and a proton-therapy facility. For the estimation of dose equivalent, a poly-allyl-diglicol-carbonate-based neutron dosimeter was used for neutron fluence measurements and, additionally, Monte Carlo simulations were performed to obtain the energy spectrum of the fluence in each point.
The main contribution to dose equivalent comes from neutrons with energy higher than 0.1 MeV, even when they represent the smallest contribution in fluence. For this range of energy, the radiation quality factor and the radiation weighting factor are approximately equal. Then, dose equivalents evaluated using both factors are compatible, with differences below 12%.
Quality factor can be replaced by the radiation weighting factor in the evaluation of dose equivalent in radiotherapy environments simplifying the practical procedure.