Russian Lab Promises Affordable Cure for Cancer In the Works

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.

Jan 1, 2009
by Anonymous

RE: Affordable "cure" for cancer

Interesting posting but a few clarificatioins that should be made. The system has been licensed by ProTom, an American based company to market the system in the U.S. once it is complete and has obtained FDA clearance.

The price comparison of MD Anderson which cost $125 million compared to this system costing 10x less is misleading. The standard Protom system is comprised of only 1 treatment room and has been stated to have a price tag of around $20 million for the proton therapy equipment (not including building, other imaging equipment like CT, MRI, etc). By comparison, the MD Anderson price tag was for a proton therapy system consisting of 4 treatment rooms, a building almost 100k sq feet, and other equipment like CT, MRI, etc. So to be fair and to have an "apples to apples" comparison, one must subtract the cost of the MD Anderson building and all other ancillary equipment so that all that is left is the cost of the proton equipment. So lets assume that ends up being somewhere around $70-$90 million dollars. That number must then be divided by 4 since MD Anderson has 4 treatment rooms to arrive at the per room cost since the Protom system is only for 1 room. That means the MD Anderson equipment cost around (VERY approximately since we do not know the exact cost of the equipment alone) $18-$23 milion per treatment room which is very close to the Protom supposed price.

To simply compare $125 million for 4 rooms w/ building, other equipment, etc to $20 million for 1 room of proton equipment only, is like saying that it is cheaper to buy a mini-van than a school bus...of course the mini-van is cheaper but which is more useful when it comes time to haul the high school football team to a game? The same can be said for the overwhelming patient demand for proton therapy that we see today...1 treatment room will be "overbooked" almost immediately after opening.

Also, in terms of the actual size of the different accelerators, there is virtually no difference. The size comparison again refers to 4 rooms vs. 1 room...again, back to the mini-van & school bus comparison, of course the school bus is larger but it can also carry many more students.

Finally, proton therapy is not a "cure" for cancer. In fact, it does the exact same thing as "conventional radiation" (x-rays, electrons, gamma). The difference is that it is possible to more accurately target the tumor meaning less radiation is given to surrounding healthy tissue. Because of this sparing of surrounding tissue, it may be possible to escalate the dose to the tumor in some cases but certainly it is probably not fair to call proton therapy a "cure for cancer". I am a big proponent of proton therapy but simply do not want anyone to get false hope that protons are the "pink pill" (cure) for cancer.

No disrespect intended what-so-ever, just wanted to make a few clarifications :)

Jan 2, 2009
by M Dee Dubroff
M Dee Dubroff's picture


 I appreciate your comment,but with all due respect, you do not back up your statements with any sources. I may be wrong, but my source of information is cited.  Please clarify where you got this information as it is important for people to know.

Are you a phsyician or someone in the field?

You do not say so if you are and i suspect that you are not.

How do you know these things?


Thank you for your comment. 


Yours in Words,

M Dee Dubroff

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