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Equipment Taking Aim at Cancer

Apr 28, 2016     Email"> PrintText Size

50-70% of patients in China need radiation therapy, according to expert

The country's first heavy-ion medical accelerator is expected to be used in cancer radiotherapy by the end of the year.

Heavy-ion cancer therapy, a cutting edge radiotherapy approach, kills malignant tumors by irradiating them with high-energy beams produced by a large accelerator.

Developed by the Modern Physics Institute at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a subsidiary company in Gansu province, the accelerator still has to pass a clinical trial, according to Xiao Guoqing, the institute director.

"It's a great milestone as it marks an end to China's long-term dependence on imported large-scale radiotherapy equipment," he said.

The development of the accelerator started in 2012.

Currently, only the United States, Germany and Japan produce such accelerators.

For the coming clinical trials, about 30 patients will be recruited in Gansu and "if everything runs smoothly, it's expected to formally receive patients by the end of the year", said Ye Yancheng, head of the Wuwei Cancer Hospital, which will conduct the trials with another two hospitals in the province.

Five types of cancer, including brain, liver and prostate, will be targeted in the trial, he added.

The public hospital in Wuwei, a small city about three hours' drive from Lanzhou, capital of Gansu, has bought the first machine under contract with the developer for 550 million yuan ($84.6 million), he said. Local governments and several other private companies also invested.

A subsidiary hospital with 1,600 beds, Gansu Heavy Ion Cancer Center, is under construction. It will receive at least 2,000 patients each year, he added.

"Cancer patients from abroad are welcome as well," Ye said.

According to Ye, top radiotherapists from across the world will be hired, and the treatment will be cheaper than in industrial countries.

It will also serve research purposes for the nation's radiotherapists, he added.

Each year, more than 3 million people develop cancer in China and about 50 to 70 percent of patients need radiation therapy, according to Xia Tingyi, director of the Cancer Center of the Air Force General Hospital in Beijing.

Some Chinese patients have been going overseas seeking advanced radiation therapy, he added.

Manfred Herbst, director of the Rinecker Proton Center in Munich, Germany, told China Daily that they mainly received patients from Australia, South Africa and the US.

Three years ago, the center began to receive 50 to 80 patients a year from China, he said.

"The number has been constantly increasing and we have an international patients service department helping them," Herbst said.

In May, the first heavy ion and proton center opened in Shanghai with a machine purchased from Germany for about 2 billion yuan. A typical course of radiation procedure costs nearly 278,000 yuan. (China Daily)

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(Editor: CHEN Na)

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