January 11, 2012
Sumitomo Heavy Industries Ltd. (hereinafter referred to as "SUMITOMO"; President: Yoshinobu Nakamura) obtained authorization from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to manufacture and distribute medical equipment for a proton therapy cancer treatment facility (product name: Proton Therapy *1 System), which features the pencil beam scanning irradiation method, a state of the art irradiation technology.
The proton therapy cancer treatment facility, with the application of the scanning irradiation method, was developed jointly with National Cancer Center Hospital East in Japan, where the product has been tested.
Clinical success with proton therapy has been achieved using the broad beam irradiation method *2. The scanning irradiation method precisely matches the shape of a targeted tumor as it is completely covered by the irradiation of narrow beams with a diameter of about 10mm. In comparison with the broad beam irradiation method, it makes it possible to treat tumors with more complex shapes and it is expected that the dosage of irradiation on normal cells surrounding the target will be limited. Furthermore, since patient specific beam shaping devices necessary for the broad beam irradiation method will no longer be required, this method will reduce running costs and radioactive waste materials.
SUMITOMO's proton therapy cancer treatment facility uses a Cyclotron *3, which is capable of generating highly intense and stable proton beams, and is exceedingly well adapted for the scanning irradiation method. Furthermore, since it is also possible to use the same facility to perform treatments with the broad beam irradiation method, it has an advantage to select the optimum irradiation method for a particular treatment target. On top of this, the irradiation dosage rate has been increased to a maximum of 15Gy/min for the recently acquired authorization to manufacture and distribute medical equipment, which is expected to shorten the treatment time and treatment period through these precise, yet high dosage irradiations.
Other unique features of the SUMITOMO Proton Therapy System include a Multi-Leaf Collimator (MLC), On-line PET detectors integrated in the gantry, a robotic couch which also serves a diagnostic quality CT-on-rails in the treatment room. These very valuable and unique clinical tools are installed since 2009 at the National Cancer Center Hospital East and can be seen there by interested visitors.
SUMITOMO have been continuing with the research and development of accelerators, such as the Cyclotron and other applications in medical fields for more than 30 years. We were the very first company in the world to deliver a commercial proton therapy cancer treatment facility intended for hospital installation, when we made our first delivery to National Cancer Center Hospital East in 1997. We are currently in the process to deliver proton therapy equipment to Aizawa Hospital in Japan, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, and Samsung Medical Center in Korea. We will continue contributing towards the wide use of proton therapy for cancer treatment around the world, incorporating state-of-the-art technologies, in collaboration with customer medical institutions.
*1: Proton therapy:
A type of radiation therapy that involves accelerating protons, which are at the nuclei of hydrogen atoms, to a high energy level before irradiating and concentrating the Bragg Peak of the proton beam on cancer cells only. Since the impact on healthy cells in the vicinity of the cancer cells can be limited, it is possible to provide a therapy with few side effects. Unlike common surgical procedures, this is a low impact treatment that allows patients to be treated as outpatients, and for this reason it is in the spotlight around the world.
*2: Broad beam irradiation method:
A method of irradiation by enlarging the diameter of beams generated by the proton beam generator, and shaping them into the shape of a targeted tumor using a beam shaping device made specifically for individual patients, referred to as a collimator or a bolus.
A type of circular accelerator. It accelerates protons, which are the nuclei of hydrogen atoms, to about 60% of the speed of light to generate proton beams with a high penetrating force. It is exceedingly well adapted for lung, liver and other respiratory organs because of the beam’s characteristics, which are higher in intensity and more continuous in comparison with other accelerators, offering a performance that makes it possible to shorten the treatment time or frequency.