Proton Beam Therapy (PBT)

Why in News?

  • There are no government facilities that offer proton beam therapy treatment in India. The treatment is considered a viable alternative to radiation for treating solid tumours, especially for head and neck cancers.


  • PBT is a type of cancer treatment that uses a beam of high-energy protons to destroy cancer cells.
  • A proton is a positively charged elementary particle that is a fundamental constituent of all atomic nuclei.
  • Unlike traditional radiation therapy, which uses X-rays, PBT can precisely target the tumour while minimising radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
  • PBT is typically delivered via a large, complex machine called a cyclotron, which accelerates protons to high speeds and delivers them to the tumour site.
  • Setting up a PBT centre is fraught with infrastructural and regulatory challenges stemming from safety concerns from the Department of Atomic Energy.
  • There are concerns about safety since hydrogen is a highly volatile element, and daily checks are required to prevent leaks.
  • A PBT machine is a huge contraption, up to three storeys tall and costs nearly ₹500 crore.
  • Apollo Hospital in Chennai is the only centre in South and West Asia that offers PBT.
  • The hospital has treated up to 900 patients, and 47% of cases were brain tumours.
  • Prostate, ovaries, breast, lungs, bones, and soft tissues cancer patients have also seen promising results through PBT.
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