European hadron therapy facilities in operation or under construction in 2016 (Image: CERN Courier)

From 19 to 21 June, sixty experts from all over the world are meeting at the European Scientific Institute (ESI) in Archamps, France, to explore future medical accelerators for treating cancer with ions. Ion therapy, also known as hadron therapy, is an advanced form of radiotherapy that uses protons and other ions to precisely target tumour cells while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues. While commercial solutions for proton therapy are now available, there are only a few bespoke facilities providing heavier ions such as carbon. The cost, complexity and size of these facilities are hampering the widespread adoption of this treatment (read more in the CERN Courier features “Therapeutic Particles” and “The changing landscape of cancer therapy”).

The workshop, jointly organised by CERN and GSI, allows scientists to exchange ideas, share current experiences and explore future possibilities towards the design for a next-generation medical research and therapy facility with ions in Europe. It is the second workshop in the series “Ions for cancer therapy, space research and material science”, initiated by GSI to highlight the increasingly important interface between physics and its applications.

CERN’s Maurizio Vretenar, one of the workshop co-organisers, presented “Accelerators for Medicine” last week at CERN. He reviewed the different applications of particle accelerators to the medical field, from cancer treatment with beams of accelerator-produced particles (photons, electrons, protons, ions and neutrons) to the generation of radioactive isotopes used in medical diagnostics, cancer therapy and the new domain of theragnostics. He outlined the status, the potential, and the challenges of meeting the increasing demand for therapeutic procedures based on accelerators.

Watch the recording of the “Accelerators for Medicine” Academic Training Lecture here.

Wednesday, 20 June, 2018

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