According to news sources, one of the most promising methods of treating cancer to date involves the use of proton beams. Proton therapy has a 90 percent success rate compared to about 40 to 60 percent for other forms of radiotherapy. It provides more effective treatment than x-rays or electron beams because they have greater energy and can be focused on the affected area (tumor). This occurs due to a process known as the Bragg Peak, which causes the protons to land directly on their target, avoiding damage to healthy tissue. The beam slices the DNA in cancerous cells and kills them.
Proton accelerators exist in America but the biggest problem about them is their unbelievably high cost. The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center spent $125 million on their new proton therapy facilities in 2006. These accelerators also consume a lot of energy and are quite bulky. Until now that is.
In the Russian town of Protvino, near Moscow, a company named Protom has developed an experimental proton accelerator that is 10 times cheaper than conventional models. Its producers claim it can treat up to 2,000 patients a year and that it is also smaller and requires less energy to run than others of its ilk. A medical lab in Protvino is testing the new design on the first accelerator and the second one is slated to go to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A third accelerator, which is currently in the process of being assembled, has been purchased by Slovakia for a new oncology center.
Will cancer die a permanent death?
It would be wonderful to think so, and it would appear that at least a formidable hope for the same is on the horizon.