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Hadron accelerators for radiotherapy

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Over the last twenty years the treatment of cancer with protons and light nuclei such as carbon ions has moved from being the preserve of research laboratories into widespread clinical use. A number of choices now exist for the creation and delivery of these particles, key amongst these being the adoption of pencil beam scanning using a rotating gantry; attention is now being given to what technologies will enable cheaper and more effective treatment in the future. In this article the physics and engineering used in these hadron therapy facilities is presented, and the research areas likely to lead to substantive improvements. The wider use of superconducting magnets is an emerging trend, whilst further ahead novel high-gradient acceleration techniques may enable much smaller treatment systems. Imaging techniques to improve the accuracy of treatment plans must also be developed hand-in-hand with future sources of particles, a notable example of which is proton computed tomography.

Keywords: oncology; particle accelerators; radiotherapy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: University of Manchester/Cockcroft Institute, Manchester, UK. 2: Christie NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, UK. 3: Particle Therapy Cancer Research Institute, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK. 4: Accelerator Science and Technology Centre, Science and Technology Facilities Council, Daresbury, UK.

Publication date: April 3, 2014

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