Hadron Therapy: from physics to medical applications
From the discovery of X-rays in 1895 onwards, developments in physics have been at the heart of development in biomedical technologies, especially the use of ionizing radiation for medical imaging and therapy. Particle accelerators are now routinely used in hospitals for conventional cancer radiotherapy using X-rays. They are also used to make the radioisotopes used for diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
The main aim of radiation therapy is to deliver a radiation dose of maximum effect to a tumour, while sparing the surrounding healthy tissues as much as possible. Conventional X-rays decrease exponentially in intensity as they pass through tissues; this means that they deliver the most energy to those tissues near to the point of entry, not to the tumour.
The special feature of hadron (generally proton) therapy is that hadrons do not lose energy steadily as they pass through matter, but instead give it up as they stop. It is this energy that has the potential to kill tumour cells. Adjusting the speed of the hadrons changes their ability to penetrate tissues, so that tumours can be targeted, meaning that hadrons with the right speed give almost all of their energy to tumours while delivering lower doses to the surrounding healthy tissues. This shows great promise for effective treatment.
The UK has one hadron therapy unit—a low energy machine, suited only to the treatment of eye tumours—which was built in 1989 at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre on the Wirral. In August 2013, the UK government confirmed that £250 million would be made available to build two UK proton therapy centres—one at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, due to open in 2018, the other at UCL Hospital in London. This exciting medical technology needs and will benefit from interdisciplinary and transnational research and collaboration.
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Menu for Supper
For School Bookings: pizza and refreshments before the lecture (6pm).
For Members of the Society: Classic beef lasagne or breaded haddock with caper and watercress mayonnaise or mature cheddar & red onion pie (v) with a choice of sides from the following: steamed new potatoes, medley of roasted root vegetables and penne pasta with tomato dressing
Citrus tart or Raspberry Bavarois
This will be served after the lecture (8:15pm), although teas and coffees will be served for Members before the lecture from 6pm so that there is a chance to socialise with the school students.
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