Technical note: Impact of beamline-specific particle energy spectra on clinical plans in carbon ion beam therapy

Andreas Franz Resch*, Mansure Schafasand, Niklas Lackner, Tom Niessen, Staffan Beck, Alessio Elia, David Boersma, Loïc Grevillot, Piero Fossati, Lars Glimelius, Markus Stock, Dietmar Georg, Antonio Carlino

*Corresponding author for this work

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

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The Local Effect Model version one (LEM I) is applied clinically across Europe to quantify the relative biological effectiveness (RBE) of carbon ion beams. It requires the full particle fluence spectrum differential in energy in each voxel as input parameter. Treatment planning systems (TPSs) use beamline-specific look-up tables generated with Monte Carlo (MC) codes. In this study, the changes in RBE weighted dose were quantified using different levels of details in the simulation or different MC codes. Methods: The particle fluence differential in energy was simulated with FLUKA and Geant4 at 500 depths in water in 1-mm steps for 58 initial carbon ion energies (between 120.0 and 402.8 MeV/u). A dedicated beam model was applied, including the full description of the Nozzle using GATE-RTionV1.0 (Geant4.10.03p03). In addition, two tables generated with FLUKA were compared. The starting points of the FLUKA simulations were phase space (PhS) files from, firstly, the Geant4 nozzle simulations, and secondly, a clinical beam model where an analytic approach was used to mimic the beamline. Treatment plans (TPs) were generated with RayStation 8B (RaySearch Laboratories AB, Sweden) for cubic targets in water and 10 clinical patient cases using the clinical beam model. Subsequently, the RBE weighted dose was re-computed using the two other fluence tables (FLUKA PhS or Geant4). Results: The fluence spectra of the primary and secondary particles simulated with Geant4 and FLUKA generally agreed well for the primary particles. Differences were mainly observed for the secondary particles. Interchanging the two energy spectra (FLUKA vs. GEANT4) to calculate the RBE weighted dose distributions resulted in average deviations of less than 1% in the entrance up to the end of the target region, with a maximum local deviation at the distal edge of the target. In the fragment tail, larger discrepancies of up to 5% on average were found for deep-seated targets. The patient and water phantom cases demonstrated similar results. Conclusion: RBE weighted doses agreed well within all tested setups, confirming the clinical beam model provided by the TPS vendor. Furthermore, the results showed that the open source and generally available MC code Geant4 (in particular using GATE or GATE-RTion) can also be used to generate basic beam data required for RBE calculation in carbon ion therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4092-4098
Number of pages7
JournalMedical Physics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • carbon ions
  • Monte Carlo simulations
  • RBE
  • Water
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted/methods
  • Humans
  • Relative Biological Effectiveness
  • Heavy Ion Radiotherapy/methods
  • Carbon/therapeutic use
  • Monte Carlo Method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Radiology, Nuclear Medicine and Imaging


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