A novel approach to design and evaluate BNCT neutron beams combining physical, radiobiological, and dosimetric figures of merit

Ian Postuma, Sara González, Maria S. Herrera, Lucas Provenzano, Michele Ferrarini, Chiara Magni, Nicoletta Protti, Setareh Fatemi, Valerio Vercesi, Giuseppe Battistoni, Umberto Anselmi Tamburini, Yuan Hao Liu, Leena Kankaanranta, Hanna Koivunoro, Saverio Altieri, Silva Bortolussi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


(1) Background:The quality of neutron beams for Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) is currently defined by its physical characteristics in air. Recommendations exist to define whether a designed beam is useful for clinical treatment. This work presents a new way to evaluate neutron beams based on their clinical performance and on their safety, employing radiobiological quantities. (2) Methods: The case study is a neutron beam for deep-seated tumors from a 5 MeV proton beam coupled to a beryllium target. Physical Figures of Merit were used to design five beams; however, they did not allow a clear ranking of their quality in terms of therapeutic potential. The latter was then evaluated based on in-phantom dose distributions and on the calculation of the Uncomplicated Tumor Control Probability (UTCP). The safety of the beams was also evaluated calculating the inpatient out-of-beam dosimetry. (3) Results: All the beams ensured a UTCP comparable to the one of a clinical beam in phantom; the safety criterion allowed to choose the best candidate. When this was tested in the treatment planning of a real patient treated in Finland, the UTCP was still comparable to the one of the clinical beam. (4) Conclusions: Even when standard physical recommendations are not met, radiobiological and dosimetric criteria demonstrate to be a valid tool to select an effective and safe beam for patient treatment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number174
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • BNCT
  • BSA
  • Epithermal neutron beam
  • Out-of-beam dosimetry
  • Radiobiological figure of merit
  • UTCP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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