SC Seminar: Pierluigi Piersimoni

Dr. Pierluigi Piersimoni, Department of Physics and Technology, University of Bergen, Norway

Title: An introduction to charged particle therapy and imaging


Particle therapy, also known as hadrontherapy, particularly with proton beam, has seen an increased interest in the last decades for cancer treatment; a fact testified by the constantly growing number of dedicated medical centers spreading all over the world. The advances in particle therapy are closely tied to advances in accelerator technology, which allows nowadays the existence of compact, relatively inexpensive accelerator facilities.
The distinct pattern of energy deposited in matter by heavy charged particles, characterized by the Bragg peak arising at the end of their path, make them attractive for patient treatments from a physical, biological and clinical point of view. In principle, knowing the exact range of the projectile particles in the target would allow to deposit most of the dose on the tumor and to avoid undesired dose to the nearby healthy tissues. However, due to the stochastic nature of energy deposition, the exact calculation of the particle range is not trivial, especially for complex biological structures such as a human body. Currently, the relative stopping power (RSP, that is the stopping power of a certain material relative to that of water) needed for treatment planning is calculated starting from x-ray computed tomography (CT) and then converted to RSP using calibration procedures. This is one of the major sources of range uncertainties (up to 3-4%) and can reduce the efficacy of hadrontherapy treatments. Proton CT (pCT) has been acknowledged as capable to reduce range uncertainties to 1% or below, by directly measuring the beam RSP for a volume of interest.
In the first part of this presentation an overview of the development of particle therapy and the evolution of medical dedicated accelerators will be given. The second part will be focused on pCT and the challenges involved in building a fast, efficient pCT system.

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