The first stage of the unique cancer treating installation - the channel of delivering the pencil of protons for the proton therapy department being created now - began working at the Nuclear Research Institute, the Russian Academy of Sciences, director of the Institute, Academician Viktor Matveyev told RIA Novosti on Thursday.
"The proton therapy of malignant tumors," Matveyev said, "is especially efficient when other methods of treatment cannot be used because the tumor has been formed closely to the vital organs of a patient." Compared to the irradiation with the light particles - electrons or photons, he explained, the advantage of the heavy particles - protons is that they are effective (give their energy and destroying the tumor's cells) precisely in the place where it is necessary and do not damage the surrounding tissues.
When calculating the effectiveness of protons' influence on the tumor, the error should not exceed one millimeter, Viktor Matveyev stressed. This is a difficult task just as to form the pencil of accelerated protons with a preset energy. It can be solved only by competent physicists. That is why almost all world centers using such therapy have been created at major physical institutes.
Experts estimate that in Russia the proton therapy should be applied to 30,000 patients a year. The three already existing centers cannot receive more than one percent of this figure. That is why, Matveyev pointed out, in 1998 a decision was made to create a major proton therapy department on the basis of the linear proton accelerator at the Nuclear Research Institute, the Russian Academy of Sciences. The first patients are expected to be received at the end of 2004.
The project, Matveyev reported, provides for creating three cameras of irradiation with the unique system of pencil rotation around the sick person, tomographs, electronic accelerators and other complex systems of diagnosis and irradiation control over 50 patients during a shift.