Helium Ion Radiation Therapy Targets Tumour Minimizing Normal Tissue Damage

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A Study presented at the ESTRO 33 Congress shows that Helium ion radiation therapy is superior compared to conventional electromagnetic (photon) therapy and also over the advanced carbon ion or proton beam radiotherapy. 

Helium ion treatment targets the tumour cells with minimal scatter delivering lesser dose to neighbouring healthy tissue.

The side effects of traditional radiation therapy are very high in some cases. Tumours located in vital structures, intracranial regions and tumours along the axial skeleton or in case of eye cancers traditional radiation therapy is not possible as surrounding normal tissue damage will be much higher. In such cases doctors may need to limit the radiation dose to limit the healthy tissue damage. Prolonged radiation exposure may even lead to secondary cancers.

Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna, Austria formulated a dose calculation algorithm, a method of calculating optimal dose of helium ion radiations. The doctors used this treatment planning algorithm on ten paediatric patients suffering from neuroblastoma and lymphoma. This resulted in treating children with low dose of radiation to a specific area of patient’s body and with less exposure to the outside area to be treated. It is very important for the children as it lessens the chance of harming developing healthy tissue.  It was found out that helium ion  reside in low linear energy transfer (LET) area which indicates less amount of energy deposition of a particle in a given range.   This measure is important as it indicates the biological effects of the therapy. 

Scientists hope that Helium ion particle can improve radiotherapy and assist cancer patients in obtaining better care.

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