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The purpose of this study was to evaluate a methodology to reduce scatter and leakage radiations to patients' surface and shallow depths during conventional and advanced external beam radiotherapy. Superflab boluses of different thicknesses were placed on top of a stack of solid water phantoms, and the bolus effect on surface and shallow depth doses for both open and intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) beams was evaluated using thermoluminescent dosimeters and ion chamber measurements. Contralateral breast dose reduction caused by the bolus was evaluated by delivering clinical postmastectomy radiotherapy (PMRT) plans to an anthropomorphic phantom. For the solid water phantom measurements, surface dose reduction caused by the Superflab bolus was achieved only in out-of-field area and on the incident side of the beam, and the dose reduction increased with bolus thickness. The dose reduction caused by the bolus was more significant at closer distances from the beam. Most of the dose reductions occurred in the first 2-cm depth and stopped at 4-cm depth. For clinical PMRT treatment plans, surface dose reductions using a 1-cm Superflab bolus were up to 31% and 62% for volumetric-modulated arc therapy and 4-field IMRT, respectively, but there was no dose reduction for Tomotherapy. A Superflab bolus can be used to reduce surface and shallow depth doses during external beam radiotherapy when it is placed out of the beam and on the incident side of the beam. Although we only validated this dose reduction strategy for PMRT treatments, it is applicable to any external beam radiotherapy and can potentially reduce patients' risk of developing radiation-induced side effects.

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Journal of Applied Clinical Medical Physics

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