Reference standards and codes of practice for ultra-high pulse dose rate cancer treatment
FLASH radiotherapy is a promising cancer treatment under development, that involves an almost instantaneous delivery of the prescribed radiation dose by only a few radiation pulses of ultra-high dose rate. Such an approach has been found to dramatically reduce adverse side effects to healthy tissues but as effective for tumour control as conventional radiotherapies. Furthermore, laser-driven particle accelerators, which are considered to be the next generation of cost-effective accelerators for radiotherapy, deliver radiation pulses of ultra-high dose rate. Both, FLASH radiotherapy and laser-driven beams present significant metrological challenges as there are significantly higher doses rate during each radiation pulse. Before full implementation in clinical practice, a method to precisely measure radiation doses at these ultra-high pulse dose rates is required, to ensure reliable delivery of prescribed doses to patients.
The project will develop a measurement framework, encompassing reference standards traceable to SI units and validated reference methods for dose measurements at ultra-high pulse dose rates. It will also characterise detector systems, develop traceable and validated methods for relative dosimetry, characterise stray radiation, and contribute to codes of practice. Outcomes will be promoted to standards organisations, international agencies, manufacturers, and end users. The framework will encourage development of novel laser-driven medical accelerators. Ultimately, the aim is confidence that patients will receive their prescribed dose, for safer, cost effective, cancer treatments.