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Med Phys. 1992 May-Jun;19(3):709-21.

Accelerator-based epithermal neutron beam design for neutron capture therapy.

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Department of Nuclear Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139.


Recent interest in the production of epithermal neutrons for use in boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT) has promoted an investigation into the feasibility of generating such neutrons with a high current proton accelerator. Energetic protons (2.5 MeV) on a 7Li target produce a spectrum of neutrons with maximum energy of roughly 800 keV. A number of combinations of D2O moderator, lead reflector, 6Li thermal neutron filtration, and D2O/6Li shielding will result in a useful epithermal flux of 1.6 x 10(8) n/s at the patient position. The neutron beam is capable of delivering 3000 RBE-cGy to a tumor at a depth of 7.5 cm in a total treatment time of 60-93 min (depending on RBE values used and based on a 24-cm diameter x 19-cm length D2O moderator). Treatment of deeper tumors with therapeutic advantage would also be possible. Maximum advantage depths (RBE weighted) of 8.2-9.2 (again depending on RBE values and precise moderator configuration) are obtained in a right-circular cylindrical phantom composed of brain-equivalent material with an advantage ratio of 4.7-6.3. A tandem cascade accelerator (TCA), designed and constructed at Science Research Laboratory (SRL) in Somerville MA, can provide the required proton beam parameters for BNCT of deep-seated tumors. An optimized configuration of materials required to shift the accelerator neutron spectrum down to therapeutically useful energies has been designed using Monte Carlo simulation in the Whitaker College Biomedical Imaging and Computation Laboratory at MIT. Actual construction of the moderator/reflector assembly is currently underway.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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