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The Monte Carlo method is used to provide accurate dose estimates in proton radiation therapy research. While it is more accurate than commonly used analytical dose calculations, it is computationally intense. The aim of this work was to characterize for a clinical setup the fast dose calculator (FDC), a Monte Carlo track-repeating algorithm based on GEANT4. FDC was developed to increase computation speed without diminishing dosimetric accuracy. The algorithm used a database of proton trajectories in water to calculate the dose of protons in heterogeneous media. The extrapolation from water to 41 materials was achieved by scaling the proton range and the scattering angles. The scaling parameters were obtained by comparing GEANT4 dose distributions with those calculated with FDC for homogeneous phantoms. The FDC algorithm was tested by comparing dose distributions in a voxelized prostate cancer patient as calculated with well-known Monte Carlo codes (GEANT4 and MCNPX). The track-repeating approach reduced the CPU time required for a complete dose calculation in a voxelized patient anatomy by more than two orders of magnitude, while on average reproducing the results from the Monte Carlo predictions within 2% in terms of dose and within 1 mm in terms of distance. © 2009 Institute of Physics and Engineering in Medicine.

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Physics in Medicine and Biology