WE-FG-BRB-02: Spatial Mapping of the RBE of Scanned Particle Beams



The physical pattern of energy deposition and the enhanced relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of protons and carbon ions compared to photons offer unique and not fully understood or exploited opportunities to improve the efficacy of radiation therapy. Variations in RBE within a pristine or spread out Bragg peak and between particle types may be exploited to enhance cell killing in target regions without a corresponding increase in damage to normal tissue structures. In addition, the decreased sensitivity of hypoxic tumors to photon-based therapies may be partially overcome through the use of more densely ionizing radiations. These and other differences between particle and photon beams may be used to generate biologically optimized treatments that reduce normal tissue complications. In this symposium, speakers will examine the impact of the RBE of charged particles on measurable biological endpoints, treatment plan optimization, and the prediction or retrospective assessment of treatment outcomes. In particular, an AAPM task group was formed to critically examine the evidence for a spatially-variant RBE in proton therapy. Current knowledge of proton RBE variation with respect to dose, biological endpoint, and physics parameters will be reviewed. Further, the clinical relevance of these variations will be discussed. Recent work focused on improving simulations of radiation physics and biological response in proton and carbon ion therapy will also be presented. Finally, relevant biology research and areas of research needs will be highlighted, including the dependence of RBE on genetic factors including status of DNA repair pathways, the sensitivity of cancer stem-like cells to charged particles, the role of charged particles in hypoxic tumors, and the importance of fractionation effects. In addition to the physical advantages of protons and more massive ions over photons, the future application of biologically optimized treatment plans and their potential to provide higher levels of local tumor control and improved normal tissue sparing will be discussed.

Learning Objectives:

  • 1.To assess whether the current practice of a constant RBE of 1.1 should be revised or maintained in proton therapy and to evaluate the potential clinical consequences of delivering RBE-weighted dose distributions based on variable RBE
  • 2.To review current research on biological models used to predict the increased biological effectiveness of proton and carbon ions to help move towards a practical understanding and implementation of biological optimization in particle therapy
  • 3.To discuss potential differences in biological mechanisms between photons and charged particles (light and heavy ions) that could impact clinical cancer therapy

H. Paganetti, NCI U19 CA21239D. Grosshans, Our research is supported by the NCIK. Held, Funding Support: National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health, USA, under Award Number R21CA182259 and Federal Share of Program Income Earned by Massachusetts General Hospital on C06CA059267, Proton Therapy Research and Treatment Center.