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Helium ions may provide superior, better-targeted treatment in pediatric radiotherapy
Date:4/5/2014

Vienna, Austria: For the first time, researchers have been able to demonstrate that the use of helium ions in radiation therapy could provide accurate treatment to tumours while helping to spare healthy organs. A treatment planning study to be presented at the ESTRO 33 congress today [Sunday] has been able to show that helium may have effects that are superior to radiotherapy using protons, themselves a considerable advance on conventional photon beam radiotherapy.

Mr Hermann Fuchs, a PhD student at the Medical University of Vienna/AKH Vienna, Austria, working with Dr Barbara Knusl and Professor Dietmar Georg, set out to devise a method of calculating the optimal dose of helium ions for use in radiation treatment. The dose calculation algorithm was then used for treatment plan calculation for ten paediatric patients, five with neuroblastoma (tumours arising in cells of the hormonal and nervous system), and five with Hodgkin's lymphoma (a cancer of the white blood cells).

"Particle beam therapy involving protons or carbon ions has advantages over conventional radiotherapy. Helium ions may represent another kind of particle that can improve radiotherapy treatment. Due to their increased mass, spreading of the beam is reduced by a factor of two as compared with protons. Moreover helium ions have an increased biological effectiveness at the end of their range," Mr Fuchs explains.

Heavier ions like carbon have the potential to kill cancer cells more effectively due to their underlying biology. But by modelling these biological processes, large uncertainties are introduced, and these can be reduced by using lighter ions like helium. "Helium ions reside in the low Linear Energy Transfer (LET) area," says Mr Fuchs. "LET is a physical quantity describing how much energy of a particle is deposited at a given range, and this measure is important when looking at the biological effects of therapy."

This greater accuracy and sparing of nor
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Contact: Mary Rice
mary.rice@riceconseil.eu
European Society for Radiotherapy and Oncology (ESTRO)
Source:Eurekalert

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