The Monte Carlo (MC) method has been shown through many research studies to calculate accurate dose distributions for clinical radiotherapy, particularly in heterogeneous patient tissues where the effects of electron transport cannot be accurately handled with conventional, deterministic dose algorithms. Despite its proven accuracy and the potential for improved dose distributions to influence treatment outcomes, the long calculation times previously associated with MC simulation rendered this method impractical for routine clinical treatment planning. However, the development of faster codes optimized for radiotherapy calculations and improvements in computer processor technology have substantially reduced calculation times to, in some instances, within minutes on a single processor. These advances have motivated several major treatment planning system vendors to embark upon the path of MC techniques. Several commercial vendors have already released or are currently in the process of releasing MC algorithms for photon and/or electron beam treatment planning. Consequently, the accessibility and use of MC treatment planning algorithms may well become widespread in the radiotherapy community. With MC simulation, dose is computed stochastically using first principles; this method is therefore quite different from conventional dose algorithms. Issues such as statistical uncertainties, the use of variance reduction techniques, theability to account for geometric details in the accelerator treatment head simulation, and other features, are all unique components of a MC treatment planning algorithm. Successful implementation by the clinical physicist of such a system will require an understanding of the basic principles of MC techniques. The purpose of this report, while providing education and review on the use of MC simulation in radiotherapy planning, is to set out, for both users and developers, the salient issues associated with clinical implementation and experimental verification of MC dose algorithms. As the MC method is an emerging technology, this report is not meant to be prescriptive. Rather, it is intended as a preliminary report to review the tenets of the MC method and to provide the framework upon which to build a comprehensive program for commissioning and routine quality assurance of MC-based treatment planning systems.

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Keywords Clinical treatment planning, Experimental verification, Monte Carlo dose calculation
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1118/1.2795842
Journal Medical Physics
Citation
Chetty, I.J. (Indrin J.), Curran, B. (Bruce), Cygler, J.E. (Joanna E.), DeMarco, J.J. (John J.), Ezzell, G. (Gary), Faddegon, B.A. (Bruce A.), … Siebers, J.V. (Jeffrey V.). (2007). Report of the AAPM Task Group No. 105: Issues associated with clinical implementation of Monte Carlo-based photon and electron external beam treatment planning. Medical Physics (Vol. 34, pp. 4818–4853). doi:10.1118/1.2795842