Only few ten radiotherapy facilities worldwide provide ion beams, in spite of their physical advantage of better achievable tumor conformity of the dose compared to conventional photon beams. Since, mainly the large size and high costs hinder their wider spread, great efforts are ongoing to develop more compact ion therapy facilities. One promising approach for smaller facilities is the acceleration of ions on micrometre scale by high intensity lasers. Laser accelerators deliver pulsed beams with a low pulse repetition rate, but a high number of ions per pulse, broad energy spectra and high divergences. A clinical use of a laser based ion beam facility requires not only a laser accelerator providing beams of therapeutic quality, but also new approaches for beam transport, dosimetric control and tumor conformal dose delivery procedure together with the knowledge of the radiobiological effectiveness of laser-driven beams. Over the last decade research was mainly focused on protons and progress was achieved in all important challenges. Although currently the maximum proton energy is not yet high enough for patient irradiation, suggestions and solutions have been reported for compact beam transport and dose delivery procedures, respectively, as well as for precise dosimetric control. Radiobiological in vitro and in vivo studies show no indications of an altered biological effectiveness of laser-driven beams. Laser based facilities will hardly improve the availability of ion beams for patient treatment in the next decade. Nevertheless, there are possibilities for a need of laser based therapy facilities in future.
Type of Publication:
Journal article published