Agilent Enables an Amazing Alternative Cancer Treatment

When we think of treatments for cancer, we normally think of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.

But another method is becoming more prevalent: hadron therapy.  This technique, first developed in the 1960s, originally involved shooting intense beams of protons into tumors.  They would destroy the tumor without harming the surrounding tissues.  This technique is particularly suited for tumors close to radio-sensitive organs such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, liver and lungs.

Recently, hadron therapy centers have begun using more massive carbon ions, which are biologically three times more effective.  These particles are sometimes able to eradicate tumors that have become resistant to all other forms of radiation (Symmetry Magazine).

Currently, five centers in the world offer carbon ions for tumor treatment.  These include Italy’s CNAO (National Center of Oncological Hadrontherapy) and Austria’s MedAustron.

These centers use a Synchrotron, a kind of particle accelerator.  Picture a 2,000-ton donut-shaped facility that is 80 meters long and 25 meters in diameter.  Particles are accelerated to 30,000 kilometers per second before being directed to the person being treated.

The top image in this post is the Synchrotron at MedAustron.  Here is the facility at CNAO.

The top image in this post is the Synchrotron at MedAustron. Here is the facility at CNAO.


Both CNAO and MedAustron rely on Agilent ion pumps to provide the optimum clean UHV (ultra-high-vacuum) conditions necessary for their systems to operate.

Today’s blog post topic was suggested by Agilent employee Ioulia Kazakova.

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