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In scanned-beam proton therapy, the beam spot properties, such as the lateral and longitudinal size and the minimum achievable range, are influenced by beam optics, scattering media and drift spaces in the treatment unit. Currently available spot scanning systems offer fewoptions for adjusting these properties. We investigated a method for adjusting the lateral and longitudinal spot size that utilizes downstream plastic pre-absorbers located near a water phantom. The spot size adjustment was characterized usingMonte Carlo simulations of a modified commercial scanned-beam treatment head. Our results revealed that the pre-absorbers can be used to reduce the lateral full width at half maximum (FWHM) of dose spots inwater by up to 14 mm, and to increase the longitudinal extent from about 1 mm to 5 mm at residual ranges of 4 cm and less. A large factor in manipulating the lateral spot sizes is the drift space between the preabsorber and the water phantom. Increasing the drift space from 0 cm to 15 cm leads to an increase in the lateral FWHM from 2.15 cm to 2.87 cm, at a waterequivalent depth of 1 cm. These findings suggest that this spot adjustment method may improve the quality of spot-scanned proton treatments. © 2010 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

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Physics in Medicine and Biology

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