Proton Bragg Peak FLASH Enables Organ Sparing and Ultra-High Dose-Rate Delivery: Proof of Principle in Recurrent Head and Neck Cancer

Michael Pennock, Shouyi Wei, Chingyun Cheng, Haibo Lin, Shaakir Hasan, Arpit M. Chhabra, J. Isabelle Choi, Richard L. Bakst, Rafi Kabarriti, Charles B. Simone, Nancy Y. Lee, Minglei Kang, Robert H. Press

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Proton pencil-beam scanning (PBS) Bragg peak FLASH combines ultra-high dose rate delivery and organ-at-risk (OAR) sparing. This proof-of-principle study compared dosimetry and dose rate coverage between PBS Bragg peak FLASH and PBS transmission FLASH in head and neck reirradiation. PBS Bragg peak FLASH plans were created via the highest beam single energy, range shifter, and range compensator, and were compared to PBS transmission FLASH plans for 6 GyE/fraction and 10 GyE/fraction in eight recurrent head and neck patients originally treated with quad shot reirradiation (14.8/3.7 CGE). The 6 GyE/fraction and 10 GyE/fraction plans were also created using conventional-rate intensity-modulated proton therapy techniques. PBS Bragg peak FLASH, PBS transmission FLASH, and conventional plans were compared for OAR sparing, FLASH dose rate coverage, and target coverage. All FLASH OAR V40 Gy/s dose rate coverage was 90–100% at 6 GyE and 10 GyE for both FLASH modalities. PBS Bragg peak FLASH generated dose volume histograms (DVHs) like those of conventional therapy and demonstrated improved OAR dose sparing over PBS transmission FLASH. All the modalities had similar CTV coverage. PBS Bragg peak FLASH can deliver conformal, ultra-high dose rate FLASH with a two-millisecond delivery of the minimum MU per spot. PBS Bragg peak FLASH demonstrated similar dose rate coverage to PBS transmission FLASH with improved OAR dose-sparing, which was more pronounced in the 10 GyE/fraction than in the 6 GyE/fraction. This feasibility study generates hypotheses for the benefits of FLASH in head and neck reirradiation and developing biological models.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3828
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 2023


  • dosimetry
  • pencil beam
  • planning
  • proton
  • radiation therapy
  • safety
  • toxicity


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