News | Molecular Imaging | July 01, 2015

Proton Therapy Growing Rapidly in Europe

Centers from different countries banding together to develop unified dosimetry, patient databases

proton therapy, Proton Therapy Center Czech, Europe, growing, PACS

Image courtesy of Proton Therapy Center Czech

July 1, 2015 - The continuing exploration of the benefits of proton therapy is inspiring a growing and massive construction of new proton centers across Europe. Proton Therapy Center (PTC) in Prague has been treating patients from 25 countries for more than two years, and many other facilities are profiting from Prague's experience.

Most progressive governments support the development of proton centers. Thus, MedAustron in Vienna will be accepting the first patient in July 2015, and Scandion clinic in Uppsala, Sweden, will join in January 2016. At the same time, a new center is being prepared in Krakow, Poland.

Together with the Czech center, those countries established in November 2014 a working group for proton therapy called PACS. "The main goal is to find a unified dosimetry of treatment plans, launching a shared database of the patients, so that treatment results will be examinable and comparable, and, what is most important, acceptable for the world scientific community," explained Vladimí­r Vondráček, chief physicist at PTC. In his opinion, the unification of treatment and building a shared database of clients are the keys to proving the benefits of proton therapy.

"Experts without any experience of proton therapy may doubt its benefits and base their opinion on the lack of evidence. But if we look at treatment protocols for photon therapy, it also took several years to finalize them. Unfortunately, many are not mutually comparable," explained Vondráček. He added that the centre in Prague initiated mutual cooperation with other European centers to make it easier for all to access relevant and conclusive data.

Based on the vision of the Prague center, the PACS working group designed a new direction for future cooperation and treatment methods at their last meeting in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

Proton therapy is an advanced treatment of tumors which minimizes the risks and increases the chances of the oncology patient, ensuring a better quality of life not only during but especially after the treatment. The main advantage of proton beams is the precise irradiation, most energy being given purely onto the tumour. In comparison with existing radiation methods, protons save the surrounding healthy tissue. The patient is irradiated from different angles and the intensity can be well modulated, which brings other benefits: The treatment decreases the risk of developing side-effects in patients and is therefore more cost-effective for insurers in the long run.

Proton therapy is suitable for tumors in children, brain tumors, head and neck tumors, lymphoma and also for prostate carcinoma. Early-stage prostate cancer can be treated in only five days, with 97 percent curability in the Prague center.

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