Medical aspects of the national centre for oncological hadrontherapy (CNAO - Centro Nazionale Adroterapia Oncologica) in Italy

Marco Krengli, Roberto Orecchia

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More than 20 hadrontherapy centres are active in the world and about 40'000 patients have been treated, almost 4'000 with ions. Physical selectivity and high relative biologic efficiency (RBE) represent the rationale for using ions in the treatment of tumours. The clinical results are very promising and justify the construction of new centres. We present the main characteristics of CNAO (Centro Nazionale Adroterapia Oncologica) and its possible integration in a nationwide network. The Italian project started in 1991 thanks to the activity of the TERA Foundation and was financed by the Italian Government in 2002. The CNAO will be built in Pavia to start clinical activity in 2007. The equipment will include a synchrotron and 3 treatment rooms mainly devoted to carbon ions but able to deliver also protons. The Centre should be able to deliver up to 20'000 fractions / year. The realization of CNAO is part of a more ambitious project to set up an integrated national network. The need of hadrontherapy centres is defined by epidemiological studies based on Italian tumour registries showing that almost 900 patients can be electively treated with protontherapy and about 10'000 could be included in clinical trials. Considering that ions could be used for radioresistant tumours that affect about 25'000 new patients/year, we estimate that 10-15%, i.e. 3'000-4'000 patients would benefit from ion therapy. The realization of a nationwide network possibly linked to a larger European network will be very helpful in making available hadrontherapy for a large part of the population.

Original languageEnglish
JournalRadiotherapy and Oncology
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004


  • Hadrontherapy
  • Ion therapy
  • Radiotherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Urology


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