Frequently Asked Questions
Hadrontherapy is a particular form of radiation therapy used for cancer treatment. Unlike conventional radiotherapy that uses X-rays, hadrontherapy uses beams of heavy particles, called hadrons.
Thanks to the special physical properties that characterize these particles, hadrontherapy offers potential advantages over conventional radiotherapy because it allows the treatment to “hit” the tumor in a highly accurate and selective way, delivering a lower dose to surrounding healthy tissue and thus reducing harmful side effects and collateral damage. Hadrontherapy also offers the potential for increased biological effectiveness for certain types of typically radio-resistant cancer cells, i.e. those not responding optimally to radiotherapy with X-ray.
If the hadrontherapy spares healthy tissues and gives fewer side effects, why is not suitable for me?
The factors that condition the choice of a treatment with hadrontherapy are related mainly to the type of cancer and its natural history, i.e. its evolutionary behavior from the moment it occurs.
The histotype or the histology of the tumor (the type of healthy cell from which a tumor originates) is one of the most important factors that determines the decision for treatment with hadrons. There are certain types of cancers which have a particular capacity for rapid growth and microscopic spread to other organs which may not be visible in normal diagnostic tests. These types of tumors do not benefit from local treatments such as hadrontherapy, but need a systemic or pharmacological treatment that prevents the cancer’s spread.
- Metastasis or the spread of the disease to other organs or tissues is often a criterion used to reject treatment with hadrons. When the disease has affected other organs far from its origin, it means that cancer cells have spread through the blood and/or lymphatic system. In these cases, local treatments such as radiotherapy or surgery must be substituted with systemic treatments that act in a widespread, i.e. diffuse, way.
- Radiosensitive tumors. Tumors that require low doses of radiation to avoid their recurrence and to be “cured” do not need the relatively sophisticated treatment represented by hadrontherapy. In such cases X-ray radiation therapy has proven itself to be both effective and sufficient.
As is the case with conventional radiation therapy, hadrontherapy involves the administration of a radiation dose adapted to the type of cancer that it is meant to cure. The total dose established will be divided into a variable number of fractions that will be administered daily to the patient.
For a detailed description of the mode of treatment, see the section PATIENTS AREA - The clinical path
The number of sessions of hadrontherapy depends on how many fractions the total prescribed dose has been divided into.
This number depends on many factors, related to the type, size and location of the tumor. In general there is one application a day for five days a week, for a total period from 2 to 8 weeks.
Although the side effects are in most cases lower compared to X-rays, hadrontherapy is not completely free of toxicity.
The side effects depend on the dose and, above all, on the irradiated area. The anatomical district in which the tumor is present and the tissues involved, inevitably affect the presence or absence of any side effects.