Proton Therapy with Dr. Thomas R. Bortfeld

Dr. Thomas Bortfeld

As part of the annual Barry Berman Memorial Lecture, the Department of Physics invites you to join Dr. Thomas R. Bortfeld, Professor at the Harvard Medical School and Chief of the Radiation Biophysics Division at Massachusetts General Hospital, in his upcoming talk: Proton Therapy.

Proton therapy has come a long way since its invention by Robert Wilson in 1946. Due to the physical characteristics of the Bragg peak, proton therapy is much better suited for the treatment of cancer than exponentially attenuated x-rays. Today, 80 proton facilities treat 20,000 patients per year worldwide. However, less than 1% of all radiotherapy patients receive protons, which is primarily due to the higher cost of proton therapy.

We will discuss the physics of making proton therapy more precise, compact and affordable for patients. In particular, we will discuss how to detect and correct the range of proton beams in the patient through tissue activation, prompt gamma radiation, and acoustic waves. We will also present efforts to shrink the size and reduce the price of proton therapy by laser acceleration, use of more compact gantries, and advancement of gantry-less systems.


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