CERN launches new cancer therapy initiative

February 12, 2002

Brussels, 11 February 2002

The first meeting of a new European network for research in cancer therapy will take place at CERN (the European organisation for nuclear research) on 12 and 13 February 2002.

The ENLIGHT (the European organisation for nuclear research) event will bring together experts to coordinate the development of a variety of projects at European facilities for 'light ion therapy,' a form of radiation therapy that uses beams of the nuclei of lightweight atoms.

CERN's Director for technology and transfer and scientific computing, Hans Hoffmann, said: 'CERN can play an important role in supporting this activity. The work of our laboratory is based on a vast expertise in the physics and engineering that underlies the accelerators and detectors essential for this type of therapy.'

Radiation therapy aims to target cancerous tumours with the largest possible dose of destructive radiation, while minimising damage to surrounding healthy tissue. However, conventional X-ray therapy is not as effective for deep-seated tumours, where it can be difficult to concentrate the dose on the target area. In such cases, therapy using light ions and protons - hydrogen ions - can be more effective as beams of light ions and protons do not diffuse so much as they travel through the body.

This first ENLIGHT meeting will bring together clinicians, oncologists, physicists and engineers from countries around the world to discuss the physics and engineering of the particle accelerators and beam systems needed to provide the light ions. Ways of increasing the clinical effectiveness and reliability of light ion therapy methods will also be discussed.

ENLIGHT's members include ESTRO (the European society for therapeutic radiology and oncology), EORTC (the European organisation for research in treatment of cancer), ETOILE (Espace de traitement oncologique par ions légers Européen) and CERN.

For further information, please contact:

Christine Sutton CERN Tel: +41-22-7674101 E-mail:

CORDIS RTD-NEWS/© European Communities, 2001

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