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Beam tracking with scanned carbon ion radiotherapy achieves highly conformal target dose by steering carbon pencil beams to follow moving tumors using real-time magnetic deflection and range modulation. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the robustness of target dose coverage from beam tracking in light of positional uncertainties of moving targets and beams. To accomplish this, we simulated beam tracking for moving targets in both water phantoms and a sample of lung cancer patients using a research treatment planning system. We modeled various deviations from perfect tracking that could arise due to uncertainty in organ motion and limited precision of a scanned ion beam tracking system. We also investigated the effects of interfractional changes in organ motion on target dose coverage by simulating a complete course of treatment using serial (weekly) 4DCTs from six lung cancer patients. For perfect tracking of moving targets, we found that target dose coverage was high (V¯95 was 94.8% for phantoms and 94.3% for lung cancer patients, respectively) but sensitive to changes in the phase of respiration at the start of treatment and to the respiratory period. Phase delays in tracking the moving targets led to large degradation of target dose coverage (up to 22% drop for a 15° delay). Sensitivity to technical uncertainties in beam tracking delivery was minimal for a lung cancer case. However, interfractional changes in anatomy and organ motion led to large decreases in target dose coverage (target coverage dropped approximately 8% due to anatomy and motion changes after 1 week). Our findings provide a better understand of the importance of each of these uncertainties for beam tracking with scanned carbon ion therapy and can be used to inform the design of future scanned ion beam tracking systems.

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Physics in Medicine and Biology

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