Heavy charged particle therapy

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 10 Apr 2019

Heavy charged particle therapy (also known as heavy ion radiotherapy) is a type of particle therapy that uses ionized atoms (e.g. neon, argon, silicon, carbon etc.). Currently carbon ions are most commonly employed, termed carbon ion radiotherapy (CIRT).

It is a technically-demanding technique as large energies are required to accelerate these relatively heavy particles to high speeds. 

The rationale behind developing the use of heavy ions for treatment is their advantageous dose distributions as scatter is less of an issue than with lighter particles due to their relatively large size. Therefore little of the dose is wasted by being deposited lateral to the beam in healthy tissues. Also at the end of their range in the tumor most of the particles stop with few passing to the tissues beyond.

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