Evaluation of electromagnetic and nuclear scattering models in GATE/Geant4 for proton therapy

Andreas F Resch, Alessio Elia, Hermann Fuchs, Antonio Carlino, Hugo Palmans, Markus Stock, Dietmar Georg, Loïc Grevillot

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

37 Citations (Scopus)


PURPOSE: The dose core of a proton pencil beam (PB) is enveloped by a low dose area reaching several centimeters off the central axis and containing a considerable amount of the dose. Adequate modeling of the different components of the PB profile is, therefore, required for accurate dose calculation. In this study, we experimentally validated one electromagnetic and two nuclear scattering models in GATE/Geant4 for dose calculation of proton beams in the therapeutic energy window (62-252 MeV) with and without range shifter (RaShi).

METHODS: The multiple Coulomb scattering (MCS) model was validated by lateral dose core profiles measured for five energies at up to four depths from beam plateau to Bragg peak region. Nuclear halo profiles of single PBs were evaluated for three (62.4, 148.2, and 252.7 MeV) and two (97.4 and 124.7 MeV) energies, without and with RaShi, respectively. The influence of the dose core and nuclear halo on field sizes varying from 2-20 cm was evaluated by means of output factors (OFs), namely frame factors (FFs) and field size factors (FSFs), to quantify the relative increase of dose when increasing the field size.

RESULTS: The relative increase in the dose core width in the simulations deviated negligibly from measurements for depths until 80% of the beam range, but was overestimated by up to 0.2 mm in σ toward the end of range for all energies. The dose halo region of the lateral dose profile agreed well with measurements in the open beam configuration, but was notably overestimated in the deepest measurement plane of the highest energy or when the beam passed through the RaShi. The root-mean-square deviations (RMSDs) between the simulated and the measured FSFs were less than 1% at all depths, but were higher in the second half of the beam range as compared to the first half or when traversing the RaShi. The deviations in one of the two tested hadron physics lists originated mostly in elastic scattering. The RMSDs could be reduced by approximately a factor of two by exchanging the default elastic scattering cross sections for protons.

CONCLUSIONS: GATE/Geant4 agreed satisfyingly with most measured quantities. MCS was systematically overestimated toward the end of the beam range. Contributions from nuclear scattering were overestimated when the beam traversed the RaShi or at the depths close to the end of the beam range without RaShi. Both, field size effects and calculation uncertainties, increased when the beam traversed the RaShi. Measured field size effects were almost negligible for beams up to medium energy and were highest for the highest energy beam without RaShi, but vice versa when traversing the RaShi.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2444-2456
Number of pages13
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Monte Carlo Method
  • Proton Therapy
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Scattering, Radiation


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