- Conference date: 19-24 September 2005
- Location: Varenna (Italy)
In the developed countries every 10 million inhabitants about 20′000 oncological patients are irradiated every year with high‐energy photons (called X‐rays by radiotherapists) produced by electron linacs. This is the so called “conventional” radiotherapy. Hadrontherapy is a novel technique of radiotherapy which instead of X‐rays employs beams of charged hadrons, protons and carbon ions in particular. Due to their physical and radiobiological properties, they allow to obtain a more conformal treatment than X‐rays, sparing better the surrounding healthy tissues with a subsequent larger control rate. By now about 40′000 patients have been treated worldwide with protons and 15 hospital based centres are either running or under construction. Carbon ion beams deliver the dose as precisely as protons and are characterized by a larger biological effectiveness than X‐rays and protons. They are therefore particularly suited to treat radio resistant tumours, as proven by the clinical studies performed on about 2′300 patients in HIMAC (Chiba, Japan) and on about 250 patients at GSI (Darmstadt, Germany). A second Japanese hospital based centre is now running in Hyogo and two are under construction in Europe, in Heidelberg (Germany) and Pave (Italy). A large diffusion of hadrontherapy is foreseen in the near future but a much larger diffusion, possibly comparable with the one of electron linacs in conventional radiotherapy, will be achieved only if much compact and cheap accelerators and dose delivery systems will be conceived and constructed. In this framework, the acceleration of protons based on laser plasma techniques represents a very interesting and challenging possibility.
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