Charged-particle therapy in cancer: clinical uses and future perspectives

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| Radiotherapy with high-energy charged particles has become an attractive therapeutic option for patients with several tumour types because this approach better spares healthy tissue from radiation than conventional photon therapy. The cost associated with the delivery of charged particles, however, is higher than that of even the most elaborate photon-delivery technologies. Reliable evidence of the relative cost-effectiveness of both modalities can only come from the results of randomized clinical trials. Thus, the hurdles that currently limit direct comparisons of these two approaches in clinical trials, especially those related to insurance coverage, should be removed. Herein, we review several randomized trials of charged-particle therapies that are ongoing, with results that will enable selective delivery to patients who are most likely to benefit from them. We also discuss aspects related to radiobiology, including the immune response and hypoxia, which will need to be taken into consideration in future randomized trials to fully exploit the potential of charged particles.

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