MHL provides information, suggestions and introductions, but we are not doctors and we cannot give medical advice.
MHL (PPM Consult Ltd.) introduces patients to hospitals and treatment centres with the latest medical technologies, special expertise or where we believe the standards of care or medical equipment to be exceptional.
We do not arrange or provide diagnostic services or treatments ourselves and we shall not be responsible for the outcome of any treatment or for failure to diagnose or treat.
Ion beam therapy is much more powerful than proton therapy, with advantages for treating larger, deeper or more stubborn cancer tumours.
Advantage of ion beam therapy
However a beam of carbon ions has about three times the biological effectiveness of a proton beam.
Like proton therapy, ion beam therapy can be delivered with great accuracy. This means that the maximum safe dose to a tumour site can be much higher than is possible with conventional radiotherapy.
The chart compares X-ray therapy (orange) with protons (dark blue) and carbon ions (light blue).
Carbon ions improve this profile further. Even greater concentration on the target tumour means that higher power can be used safely to treat even stubborn tumours.
Applications for ion beam therapy
Ion beam therapy can be used to great advantage in treating bone and soft tissue tumours, especially where nearby organs are particularly sensitive to radiation damage.
Slow growing and oxygen-poor tumours are also good targets for ion beam therapy, as well as tumours which have been treated by radiotherapy but which then reoccur.
Ion beam therapy for children
Growing tissue is especially vulnerable to damage by radiation, so use of proton or ion beam therapy instead of radiotherapy greatly reduces the risk of hormone and growth disorders and the risk of secondary cancers arising in later years.
Proton therapy and ion beam therapy both use charged particles rather than the X-rays used in radiotherapy, so collectively they are known as different forms of particle therapy.
As the lightest element, the nucleus of a hydrogen atom consists of a single proton, with one electron cirling around it. When the electron is stripped away the resulting hydrogen ion can be used in proton beam therapy (above).
All other elements contain a mixture of protons and neutrons at their nucleus, so they have much greater mass.
Ion beam therapy typically uses ions of carbon, oxygen or helium instead of single protons, so the particles which strike the tumour are heavier.
This assists greatly in the treatment of stubborn tumours and it further safeguards sensitive organs such as the heart or spinal nerves from damage caused by radiation spilling over from the desired target.
Greater effectiveness and higher accuracy of ion beam therapy - click to expand
Scientists at the CERN large hadron collider project near Geneva had long planned a new ion beam therapy cancer centre, where their particle physics research could be put to medical use.
MedAustron is now open and we are proud that MHL was invited to introduce suitable patients to their Medical Director from the very start.
You can also have their case assessed for CyberKnife radiosurgery, robotic surgery and other treatments at university hospitals in Europe and USA.
Just make a single enquiry and we will discuss the options with you.
When a proton beam has to travel further within a patient, either because the tumour is deep-seated or because the patient is physically large, a little more of the therapeutic radiation travels beyond the target tumour.
This is very much lower than with conventional radiotherapy, but the effect is measurable. With ion beams however, this unwanted radiation beyond the tumour can be reduced further.
Are there any disadvantages to ion beam therapy?
Ion beams require much greater energies than proton beams, so the generation and delivery processes are different.
In practice this means that most treatment centres geared for delivery of ion beam therapy usually have to sacrifice some accuracy when delivering proton therapy.
However MHL works with MedAustron, who have invested in a special, advanced delivery system (gantry) to avoid this problem. This ensures that there is no compromise on delivering the optimum treatment for each patient.
X-rays (radiotherapy) deliver radiation to tissues in front of and behind the target, whilst protons deliver a peak of radiation to the tumour with much lower radiation before and very little after.
These include brain tumours and tumour of the spinal cord, eyes, liver or lungs.
Combined ion and proton beam therapy available through the MHL enquiry service
We work directly with Prof. Eugen Hug, one of the leading particle therapy specialists in the world.
Better for deeper tumours or larger patients
The latest ion beam therapy is powerful enough to kill even stubborn tumours, whilst greatly reducing side effects common to other radiation treatments.