Radiation therapy with charged particles

Seminars in Radiation Oncology
Daniela Schulz-ErtnerWolfgang Schlegel

Abstract

Charged particle beams can offer an improved dose conformation to the target volume as compared with photon radiotherapy, with better sparing of normal tissue structures close to the target. In addition, beams of ions heavier than (4)He exhibit a strong increase of the linear energy transfer in the Bragg peak as compared with the entrance region. These physical and biological properties are much more favorable than in photon radiotherapy. As a consequence, particle therapy with protons and heavy ions has gained increasing interest worldwide, and many clinical centers are considering introducing radiation therapy with charged particles. This contribution summarizes the physical and technical principles of charged particle therapy with protons and heavy ions. It briefly reviews the clinical experience gathered so far with proton therapy and gives a more detailed summary of the recent results in carbon ion therapy of skull base tumors, head and neck tumors, non-small-cell lung cancer, hepatocellular carcinomas, bone and soft-tissue sarcomas, and prostate cancer.

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