July 15, 2008
Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd. (President: Yoshinobu Nakamura) received an order for a proton beam cancer treatment system, the first order of its kind by Taiwan, from the Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan. A similar system had been delivered to the National Cancer Center Hospital East in Japan (at Kashiwa City of Chiba Prefecture), which has been in operation for over ten years. This is, however, the first order from overseas.
Proton beam treatment is a radiotherapy that accelerates protons, the nuclei of hydrogen atoms, to a high energy level, using them to bombard cancer cells in a concentrated manner. Proton beams have a physical characteristic known as the "Bragg's Peak", which rapidly releases energy at a specific depth and dissipates. Since this characteristic can be used to concentrate energy on a cancer lesion and will not adversely impact healthy cells, it is possible to perform treatment with fewer side effects. Furthermore, since no excisions are made during surgery, patients feel no pain, and thus this cancer treatment can be performed on outpatients and provides a high-level quality of life (QOL).
The Chang Gung Memorial Hospital is the largest group of hospitals in Taiwan, providing a total of approximately 7,000 beds. It is directly managed by the "Taiwan Plastic Group", the largest corporate group in Taiwan, with the petrochemical business at the core of their business activities. The system ordered is the largest in scale in the world, equipped with four treatment rooms. Furthermore, the latest technologies have been adopted and incorporated into the system, including pencil beam scanning*, a method for applying energy beams to patients. The high demand for a cancer treatment with a high-level QOL has been rising globally, as standards of living continue to improve. We are hoping to use this order as a trigger for opportunities to launch sales in global markets in such areas as Asia or North America.
* Note: Pencil beam scan: A method for applying a narrowly focused beam to a patient. It is possible to accurately trace the complex shapes of the diseased areas of patients with this method, which allows the beam to be applied only to cancer-affected areas.