Charged Particle Therapy: Physicists meet Physicians

by Prof. Ken Peach (John Adams Institute/Oxford)

Charged Particle Therapy (also called "hadron therapy" or "proton therapy") is used to treat some forms of cancer by depositing a large amount of energy locally in the tumour by using protons or light ions such as carbon. Because of the characteristics of the energy deposition by charged hadrons (essentially the Bragg peak), it is possible to deposit the 70 or more Gray needed to kill the tumour while reducing substantially the dose delivered to healthy tissue, when compared with conventional radiotherapy using x-rays. Given this, it is perhaps surprising that there is today only one centre using Charged Particle Therapy, although there is very significant investment in such facilities in the US, Japan, Germany, Italy, France and several other countries. In this seminar, I will discuss some of the requirements for Charged Particle Therapy and how these might be met with new technology. I will also discuss some of the other technical and medical challenges.