Specific absorbed fractions and radionuclide S-values for tumors of varying size and composition

Edmond Olguin, Bonnie President, Michael Ghaly, Eric Frey, George Sgouros, Wesley E. Bolch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Accurate estimates of tumor absorbed dose are essential for the evaluation of treatment efficacy in radiopharmaceutical cancer therapy. Although tumor dosimetry via the MIRD schema has been previously investigated, prior studies have been limited to the consideration of soft-tissue tumors. In the present study, specific absorbed fractions (SAFs) for monoenergetic photons, electrons, and alpha particles in tumors of varying compositions were computed using Monte Carlo simulations in MCNPX after which self-irradiation S-values for 22 radionuclides (along with 14 additional alpha-emitter progeny) were generated for tumors of both varying size and tissue composition. The tumors were modeled as spheres with radii ranging from 0.10 cm to 6.0 cm and with compositions varying from 100% soft tissue (ST) to 100% mineral bone (MB). The energies of the photons and electrons were varied on a logarithm energy grid from 10 keV to 10 MeV. The energies of alpha particles were varied along a linear energy grid from 0.5 MeV to 12 MeV. In all cases, a homogenous activity distribution was assumed throughout the tumor volume. Furthermore, to assess the effect of tumor shape, several ellipsoidal tumors of different compositions were modeled and absorbed fractions were computed for monoenergetic electrons and photons. S-values were then generated using detailed decay data from the 2008 MIRD Monograph on Radionuclide Data and Decay Schemes. Our study results demonstrate that a soft-tissue model yields relative errors of 25% and 71% in the absorbed fraction assigned to uniform sources of 1.5 MeV electrons and 100 keV photons, respectively, localized within a 1 cm diameter tumor of MB. The data further show that absorbed fractions for moderate ellipsoids can be well approximated by a spherical shape of equal mass within a relative error of < 8%. S-values for 22 radionuclides (and their daughter progeny) were computed with results demonstrating how relative errors in SAFs could propagate to relative errors in tumor dose estimates as high as 86%. A comprehensive data set of radionuclide S-values by tumor size and tissue composition is provided for application of the MIRD schema for tumor dosimetry in radiopharmaceutical therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number235015
JournalPhysics in medicine and biology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 25 2020


  • Radionuclide S value
  • Radiopharmaceutical therapy
  • Specific absorbed fraction
  • Tissue composition
  • Tumor dosimetry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging


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