MPP Colloquium

Ion beam therapy: state-of-the-art and research opportunities

by Prof. Katia Parodi (LMU)

MPI Meeting rooms

MPI Meeting rooms

The energy deposition of swift ions in matter can be concentrated at a well-localized depth at the end of range, so-called Bragg peak, thus providing favorable physical and biological properties for cancer treatment. Compared to conventional external beam radiotherapy modalities, ion beams promise superior tumour-dose conformality and optimal sparing of surrounding critical organs and healthy tissue, with expected benefits for deep-seated, inoperable tumour sites as well as pediatric patients. Hence, interest in this emerging technology has rapidly increased worldwide in the last decade(s), with about 70 ion (mostly proton) therapy facilities currently in operation and about the same amount in construction or planning. Despite constant technological advances, full clinical exploitation of the favorable ballistic properties of ion beams in clinical practice is still hampered by the yet unsolved problem of range uncertainties, preventing the desired (sub)-millimeter localization of the Bragg peak (hence dose maximum) in tissue. Hence, several new approaches are being extensively investigated to tackle this issue at the stage of treatment planning and delivery. This presentation will thus review main ongoing developments and initial experience aiming to eventually harness the ballistic selectivity of ion beam therapy in pre-clinical and clinical applications.