For the past several years, children are increasingly being irradiated with protons worldwide. They are particularly sensitive to the occurrence of radiation-induced side effects and secondary tumours due to the still-developing tissue. Currently, not only is healing the tumour but also the quality of life after cancer therapy an important goal. Because of this, proton therapy proves to be a promising tool for treating cancer during childhood since the physical properties of protons allow a very limited and well-controlled dosing. Here, the normal tissue is largely spared and it reduces the risk of negative consequences and secondary tumours.
At the WPE, the treatment of children is our priority. Currently, brain tumours and sarcoma tumours in the skull base region and in the region of the spine and pelvis are mostly treated. With precise dose distribution in proton treatment, the immediately adjacent critical organs, which are often at risk, can be highly protected. Since January 2015 and for the first time in Europe, we are able to also routinely offer the so-called craniospinal proton therapy to children under general anaesthesia, i.e. the radiation of the entire central nervous system.