Munich cancer clinic doubles proton therapy capacity
11 February 2010
The Rinecker Proton Therapy Center (RPTC) in Munich has doubled its capacity with the successful commissioning of a second treatment room that will enable it to deliver intensity modulated proton therapy using pencil-beam scanning technology from Varian Medical Systems.
“The commissioning of our second treatment gantry will enable us to double our capacity and we are very pleased to be able to offer advanced proton therapy to twice as many patients,” says Dr Joerg Hauffe, chief executive officer of ProHealth, the centre's operating company. “We can now make more efficient use of this life-saving technology by switching the proton beam between rooms so we can treat in one room while we’re setting up a patient for treatment in the other room. Before the year is out, we expect to commission three more treatment rooms.”
When completed, the Rinecker Proton Therapy Center will be a state-of-the-art proton facility with four gantry rooms and one fixed-beam room, the latter of which will specialize in treating delicate tumours such as small head, neck and eye cancers and tumours close to the spinal cord. The two additional gantry rooms are due to be ready for clinical treatment during 2010.
Unlike conventional X-ray based radiotherapy that utilizes photons and electrons, particle therapy involves delivering heavier proton particles to destroy tumours. Proton therapy enables oncologists to improve dose control and limit exposure to healthy tissue while treating cancer and other indications. As a result, proton technology is moving from research facilities into active cancer treatment clinics such as RPTC.
Dr Hauffe said RPTC benefits from being able to offer Varian’s pencil-beam spot scanning delivery method, which offers distinct performance advantages for more precise dose distribution than is possible with other proton delivery systems.
“We believe pencil-beam scanning is the best approach for patients because you can more easily and effectively shape the dose distribution as necessary and lessen exposure to critical organs such as the spinal cord, which is difficult to achieve using the standard scattering proton technique employed by most other proton centres,” said Dr Hauffe.
“Studies show that we are lowering exposure to healthy tissue and making hypo-fractionation more of a reality in radiotherapy treatments,” added Dr Hauffe. Hypo-fractionation involves delivering the prescribed dose in fewer treatment sessions, or fractions, thus reducing the number of times patients have to come for treatment.
More than 80 treatment courses have been concluded at RPTC and several more patients are currently undergoing treatment. The patients have come from Germany and 18 other countries, including Canada, Argentina, the UK and Switzerland. Among these patients have been several children, as proton therapy’s ability to limit exposure to healthy tissue is particularly valuable in paediatric treatments.
Lester Boeh, head of Varian’s Emerging Businesses, said, “The Rinecker Proton Therapy Center is delivering the most advanced particle treatments available and Varian is proud to be part of this ground-breaking venture.”