Particle beam therapy (hadrontherapy): Basis for interest and clinical experience

R. Orecchia, A. Zurlo, A. Loasses, M. Krengli, G. Tosi, S. Zurrida, P. Zucali, U. Veronesi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The particle or hadron beams deployed in radiotherapy (protons, neutrons and helium, carbon, oxygen and neon ions) have physical and radiobiological characteristics which differ from those of conventional radiotherapy beams (photons) and which offer a number of theoretical advantages over conventional radiotherapy. After briefly describing the properties of hadron beams in comparison to photons, this review discusses the indications for hadrontherapy and analyses accumulated experience on the use of this modality to treat mainly neoplastic lesions, as published by the relatively few hadrontherapy centres operating around the world. The analysis indicates that for selected patients and tumours (particularly uveal melanomas and base of skull/spinal chordomas and chondrosarcomas), hadrontherapy produces greater disease-free survival. The advantages of hadrontherapy are most promisingly realised when used in conjunction with modern patient positioning, radiation delivery and focusing techniques (e.g. on-line imaging, three-dimensional conformal radiotherapy) developed to improve the efficacy of photon therapy. Although the construction and running costs of hadrontherapy units are considerably greater than those of conventional facilities, a comprehensive analysis that considers all the costs, particularly those resulting from the failure of less effective conventional radiotherapy, might indicate that hadrontherapy could be cost effective. In conclusion, the growing interest in this form of treatment seems to be fully justified by the results obtained to date, although more efficacy and dosing studies are required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-468
Number of pages10
JournalEuropean Journal of Cancer
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998


  • Hadrontherapy
  • Ion beams
  • Neutron beams
  • Particle beam therapy
  • Proton beams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Hematology
  • Oncology


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