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China uses self-developed carbon ion facility in cancer treatment

(Xinhua)    13:49, April 01, 2020

LANZHOU, April 1 (Xinhua) -- China's first self-developed carbon ion therapy facility has been put into clinical use for cancer patients, according to its developers.

The first five patients have received the treatment in the Wuwei Tumor Hospital in northwest China's Gansu Province since March 26.

The medical facility was co-developed by the Institute of Modern Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and a subsidiary company. It was approved by China's National Medical Products Administration in September 2019.

Carbon ions are heavier than protons and can deposit more energy in tumor tissues. An alternative to surgery, carbon ion therapy is recognized as the next promising cancer treatment. It can kill tumors that are resistant to traditional radiation therapy.

Unlike traditional methods of radiation, this technique delivers cancer-killing power concentrated on tumors with minimal harm to healthy tissue. Scientists have adopted it for the treatment of various tumors in hard-to-treat areas, such as the head, neck, chest, abdomen and pelvis.

The carbon-ion facility, with thousands of components, involves a machine that can accelerate carbon ions to 70 percent of light speed. To reduce the heat caused by the high-speed operation, the local government provides a 5,000-square-meter building for the protection of hydropower systems.

The facility also has a treatment system with two treatment rooms, in which carbon-ion beams can enter the patient's body with a wide range of angles that optimized to reach the targeted tumors, said Xiao Guoqing, head of the project and a CAS researcher.

According to Xiao, the institute started developing the systems in 2012 after two decades of research. It has currently completed developing two products, and the other one is installed in Lanzhou, the provincial capital of Gansu.

Ye Yancheng, president of the Wuwei Tumor Hospital, said it has established a carbon ion treatment center with more than 20 experts from home and abroad.

The United States, Germany and Japan have adopted carbon-ion therapy since the 1970s. There are 11 medical heavy-ion accelerators in operation in the world, and five are under construction. About 30,000 cancer patients globally have received the carbon ion therapy, according to a CAS statement.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: He Zhuoyan, Liang Jun)

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