Proton vs carbon ion beams in the definitive radiation treatment of cancer patients.
Both cell lethality and neoplastic transformation were assessed for C3H10T1/2 cells exposed to neutrons with energies from 0.040 to 13.7 MeV. Monoenergetic neutrons with energies from 0.23 to 13.7 MeV and two neutron energy spectra with average energies of 0.040 and 0.070 MeV were produced with a Van de Graaff accelerator at the Radiological Research Accelerator Facility (RARAF) in the Center for Radiological Research of Columbia University. For determination of relative biological effectiveness (RBE), cells were exposed to 250 kVp X rays. With exposures to 250 kVp X rays, both cell survival and radiation-induced oncogenic transformation were curvilinear. Irradiation of cells with neutrons at all energies resulted in linear responses as a function of dose for both biological endpoints. Results indicate a complex relationship between RBEm and neutron energy. For both survival and transformation, RBEm was greatest for cells exposed to 0.35 MeV neutrons. RBEm was significantly less at energies above or below 0.35 MeV. These results are consistent with microdosimetric expectation. These results are also compatible with current assessments of neutron radiation weighting factors for radiation protection purposes. Based on calculations of dose-averaged LET, 0.35 MeV neutrons have the greatest LET and therefore would be expected to be more biologically effective than neutrons of greater or lesser energies.