Most conventional radiotherapy treatments use beams of X-rays to treat tumours. X-rays are high-energy waves made of photons, which are a form of electromagnetic radiation. However the beams do not discriminate between cancerous and normal tissue. Although the radiation beams are focused on a tumour, so the dose to the surrounding tissues is minimised, there will inevitably be some potential damage, leading to short or long-term side effects, including the risk of developing secondary malignancies. While these side effects are obviously not ideal for cancer patients at any age, they can be particularly harmful for children as their bodies are still developing and they are more susceptible to the effects of radiation. Children are also more at risk of developing a secondary cancer later in life, caused by their early exposure to radiation.
Recent advances in radiation therapy technologies have focused clinicians on further improving the ability to target the radiation dose more precisely at cancer cells while minimising the exposure to healthy tissue.
The most significant industry developments in radiation therapy is the development of proton therapy, a highly-targeted type of radiotherapy that can treat hard-to-reach cancers with a lower risk of damaging surrounding tissues and causing side effects. This is because protons stop once they hit their target, whereas X-ray beams carry on through the body. Literature shows that proton therapy can cut down the risk of developing secondary malignancies by up to 50%.
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Proton therapy is widely accepted by physicians, governments and many insurers worldwide. It has been used for more than 50 years and in the hospital setting since 1990. As of December 2013, over 120,000 patients were treated worldwide in 45 centres worldwide.
While proton therapy systems have been recognised as a superior treatment modality, widespread treatment of common cancers has been impractical, due to the size and cost of proton therapy machines. This currently results in a lack of centres equipped with appropriate equipment, which in turn explains why today only 1% of cancer patients have benefited from proton therapy.
This is why at Advanced Oncotherapy, we are focused on a revolutionary proton therapy system that can be used and afforded by most people, not just by an exclusive minority. With the application of our new LIGHT technology, Advanced Oncotherapy is committed to deliver a significantly more cost effective, smaller 1, 2, or 3 room system to enable treatment with protons to become a financially viable treatment option.