Proton Therapy

Hadrontherapy is a state-of-the-art medical cancer treatment providing methods for curing or controlling tumours using an external hadrons beam radiation facility.

What are HADRONS?

Hadrons are positively charged, high energy, subatomic particles that are precisely focused on cancerous tissue after being boosted in a medical-physics accelerator system: indirect ionizations break up the DNA chain of the target cancer cells, preventing the cell replication, reducing its dimensions and eliminating them, as detected in the majority of the observed clinical cases, the carcinoma itself.

Protontherapy and advantages for patients

Protontherapy falls within the medical discipline of Hadrontherapy and uses protons with an energy range between 60 to 250 MeV so that deep-seated tumours at up to 30 cm depth can be treated.

The chief advantage of protontherapy is the ability to more precisely localize the radiation dosage when compared with other types of external beam radiotherapy.

  • Since protons are heavy particles, they penetrate with minimal diffusion and they slow down relatively fast when entering biological tissue. Most of their energy is deposited, with little scatter, at the end of their path in the so called a Bragg peak region.
  • Since protons are charged particles, a proton "pencil" beam can be precisely guided towards any part of the tumour.

Bragg Peak


Conformal radiation therapy is in use to target the tumour as accurately as possible with the highest possible dose of radiation, minimizing the effect on healthy tissues.

Tissue selectivity is important when the tumour mass is seated close to vital organs that must not be irradiated by the beam. Ocular neoplasia, Head-And-Neck cancers and spinal cord tumours are eligible for protontherapy; this oncological treatment is well-established and gives significant advantages to patients affected by neoplasia to prostate, lungs and the gastro enteric tract.




Cancer Incidence Worldwide

According to GLOBOCAN 2008 Project, promoted by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), an estimated 12.7 million new cancer cases and 7.6 million cancer deaths occurred in 2008 worldwide (with 2.2 million new cancer cases in Europe).

Furthermore, the GLOBOCAN 2008 Project estimates that by 2030 there will be almost 21.4 million new cases diagnosed annually with over 13.2 million deaths occurring annually from cancer. (GLOBOCAN Cancer Research UK)

According to a detailed report supervised by Prof. R. Orecchia and distributed by Italian Association on Radiotherapy (AIRO), an estimated 2% of cancer patients are eligible for proton beam therapy and for an estimated 12% the potential therapeutic benefit is so great as to also justify the use of proton therapy, instead of conventional radiotherapy. [AIRO]

ADAM’s technology innovations

In 2008 ADAM SA started their R&D activities in collaboration with CERN, Geneva to produce innovative and compact, high frequency, linear accelerators in order to reduce these costs, allowing more protontherapy centres to be accessible to as many hospitals as possible.

LIGHT (Linac for Image Guided Hadron Therapy) developed by ADAM SA brings together the physics and medical requirements to ensure correct treatment of cancer tissues with proton beams, and importantly, it also brings innovations in concept, design and manufacturing to reduce production costs.

The main characteristic features are:

Precision: the system has an active longitudinal modulation along the beam propagation axis (beam energy can be electronically varied during therapy and therefore the treatment depth), rather than using a passive modulation system (where the cyclotrons fixed initial energy is degraded through the interposition of variable thickness energy absorbers between the accelerator and the patient, causing a quality loss of the beam). Moreover, the LIGHT system has a dynamic transversal modulation that allows a precise 3D treatment of the tumours (spot scanning)

Compact: the linear accelerator LIGHT, in substitution of a cyclotron or synchrotron, has compact dimensions, therefore reducing size and costs of the building construction.

230 MeV Synchrotron + Injector

Linear Accelerator (LIGHT + Injector)

30-230MeV LIGHT accelerator

Modularity: the linear accelerator LIGHT is conceived as an assembly of modular units. This specific feature offers to radiation therapy centres complete freedom of customizing, steering medical choices on a wide range of treatment energies. Moreover, LIGHT enables small hospitals the initial choice of a 70 MeV accelerator for eyes, head and neck treatment, without precluding the possibility to extend it to higher energies by means of a simple installation of additional units, without dismantling then re-installing a completely new system (as is needed for cyclotrons and synchrotrons).

Easy maintenance: modularity and compactness, associated with straightforward design principles, allow fast and low cost maintenance during the short shut-down periods of the system, giving the possibility to achieve an overall system availability of >95% required by critical medical installations in hospitals.

User friendly: proton beam linear accelerators are similar in use to the conventional X-Ray linear accelerators currently used for cancer treatment. This similarity offers to doctors and medical technicians a familiar approach to using LIGHT.