New centre offers cancer radiation treatment and opportunities for research
The Cyclotron Centre Bronowice (CCB) in Kraków, Poland offers innovative radiation therapy to cancer patients using advanced proton beams. The new centre, which was built with EU funding, also offers research opportunities in areas such as medical physics, biology and nuclear physics. Research on the new cancer treatment methods is being carried out at CCB by scientists from Poland and partners from across the EU.
" The Cyclotron Centre Bronowice was, in 2015, only the second such facility in central Europe – and the first in Poland. Its construction was made possible thanks to an excellent collaboration between major universities and clinical centres in Poland in the framework of the National Consortium of Hadron Therapy. As well as offering ground-breaking treatment of cancers, the centre provides top-quality training to medical staff and a range of research opportunities. It hosts thousands of visitors every year, also through open days, including many school groups. "
The new facility was constructed in two phases. It forms the Cyclotron Centre Bronowice together with an older facility built in the 1990s. Phase one provided the building and related infrastructure, which included installation of a Proteus C235 Cyclotron, used principally for research and in the treatment of eye cancers. Phase two of the project saw the installation of two therapeutic gantries, which serve to precisely target the proton beams during the cancer treatment. The new facility started treating people in February 2016. CCB phase 1 has so far provided radiation therapy to around 80 patients who suffer from eye melanomas. With the second phase facility coming online, almost 100 more cancer patients have so far completed their treatment. Patients come from across Poland, but there are plans to open up treatment to people from other countries, including non-EU states.
Improving survival rates
The treatment available at CCB is thought to improve patients’ long-term chances of symptom-free survival. Their quality of life is improved because there is a reduced risk of side effects and of secondary cancers following CCB radiotherapy, compared to other treatment pathways. In addition to treating eye melanomas, the centre treats patients with other forms of cancer, mainly selected brain and head and neck tumours.
Investments in the centre have created around 40 new jobs for skilled people including medical physicists, radiotherapists, IT specialists and cyclotron engineers. CCB is also home to 10 PhD students. Medical physicists from collaborating clinical centres – such as University Hospital in Kraków, the Centre of Oncology and the Children’s University Hospital – are coming to the CCB for training.
Wider scientific benefits
Several research groups from across Europe – including Belgium, Czech Republic, Croatia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden – are using the facilities to carry out experimental work. Radiobiological studies have already revealed that the biological effect of proton beams might be greater than initial estimates. The proton beam has also been used to investigate the effect of radiation on electronics for space missions, and for high-energy physics experiments. CCB infrastructure is available to the international research community working on projects backed by the EU’s Horizon 2020 programme.
Total investment and EU funding
Total investment for the project “The National Centre of Hadron Radiotherapy Phases 1&2: Cyclotron Centre Bronowice (NCRH – CCB)” is EUR 70 441 991, with the EU’s European Regional Development Fund contributing EUR 53 887 662 through the “Innovative Economy” Operational Programme for the 2007-2013 programming period.