Purpose: To investigate the use of various breast tissue segmentation models in Monte Carlo dose calculations for low-energy brachytherapy. Methods: The EGSnrc user-code BrachyDose is used to perform Monte Carlo simulations of a breast brachytherapy treatment using TheraSeed Pd-103 seeds with various breast tissue segmentation models. Models used include a phantom where voxels are randomly assigned to be gland or adipose (randomly segmented), a phantom where a single tissue of averaged gland and adipose is present (averaged tissue), and a realistically segmented phantom created from previously published numerical phantoms. Radiation transport in averaged tissue while scoring in gland along with other combinations is investigated. The inclusion of calcifications in the breast is also studied in averaged tissue and randomly segmented phantoms. Results: In randomly segmented and averaged tissue phantoms, the photon energy fluence is approximately the same; however, differences occur in the dose volume histograms (DVHs) as a result of scoring in the different tissues (gland and adipose versus averaged tissue), whose mass energy absorption coefficients differ by 30%. A realistically segmented phantom is shown to significantly change the photon energy fluence compared to that in averaged tissue or randomly segmented phantoms. Despite this, resulting DVHs for the entire treatment volume agree reasonably because fluence differences are compensated by dose scoring differences. DVHs for the dose to only the gland voxels in a realistically segmented phantom do not agree with those for dose to gland in an averaged tissue phantom. Calcifications affect photon energy fluence to such a degree that the differences in fluence are not compensated for (as they are in the no calcification case) by dose scoring in averaged tissue phantoms. Conclusions: For low-energy brachytherapy, if photon transport and dose scoring both occur in an averaged tissue, the resulting DVH for the entire treatment volume is reasonably accurate because inaccuracies in photon energy fluence are compensated for by inaccuracies in localized dose scoring. If dose to fibroglandular tissue in the breast is of interest, then the inaccurate photon energy fluence calculated in an averaged tissue phantom will result in inaccurate DVHs and average doses for those tissues. Including calcifications necessitates the use of proper tissue segmentation.

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Keywords brachytherapy dose calculations, EGSnrc, Monte Carlo, Pd-103 breast cancer, tissue segmentation
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1118/1.3613167
Journal Medical Physics
Sutherland, J.G.H., Thomson, R.M, & Rogers, D.W.O. (2011). Changes in dose with segmentation of breast tissues in Monte Carlo calculations for low-energy brachytherapy. Medical Physics, 38(8), 4858–4865. doi:10.1118/1.3613167