February 23, 2009 - An advance in the way protons are delivered at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute — called uniform scanning — reportedly enable physicians to treat tumors that are deeper in the body, tumors that are very large and tumors that are situated closer to vital organs.
Uniform scanning is a new device that moves a single beam of protons in a sweeping or "scanning" motion, enabling the beam to reach deeper into the body and to cover a wider treatment area than the more commonly used scattering method. Until now the proton beam was "scattered" and flattened using round filters that limited how deep and how wide protons could travel into the body.
Proton therapy will now be a possible treatment option for prostate cancer patients with a hip circumference of more than 50 inches and for sarcoma patients with tumors larger than 9.4 inches. Uniform scanning also means significant medical advantages for patients with tumors in the head and neck, brain or spinal column since it can cover the target area more efficiently than the scattering method.
"With proton therapy, our ability to precisely deliver radiation to the tumor without damaging normal healthy tissue is the main advantage for all patients," Dr. Nancy Mendenhall, M.D., UF Proton Therapy Institute's medical director. "Uniform scanning takes us to the next step in improving delivery of protons, eventually leading to more intense and fewer doses and the potential to further decrease risk of complications."
The technology was developed over the past four years by IBA in collaboration with Massachusetts General Hospital and the UF Proton Therapy Institute. IBA is the leading manufacturer of particle therapy equipment, with international headquarters in Belgium and a United States proton therapy headquarters in Jacksonville.
"The immediate advantages of uniform scanning are evident in the increased number of patients and types of tumors we will be able to treat," said Zuofeng Li, M.D., UF Proton Therapy Institute's director of physics. "Over time, we expect additional clinical advantages to emerge."