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European Summer University "The Secrets of the Atomic Nucleus", Strasbourg : France (2009)
Nuclear Instruments and Methods for the Campaign against Cancer
G. Montarou1
(2009)

Progress in Health and Life sciences has always been strongly correlated to technological developments in physical science, especially in Nuclear and High Energy Physics. In Europe, cancer will be the most important problem of public health and the leading cause of death of an important part of population between 45 and 65 years old. During the coming years one could estimate that 1.5 million new cancers appear each year. In many cases the death is due to the metastatic dissemination of the cancer cells in the organism. Medical treatments, able to target in a specific way these cancer cells should allow a local control of the tumour. The surgery remains the principal treatment to control it locally. The improvements of this technique are always possible, but will never carry out a full local control. The use of ionizing particles to irradiate tumors is one of the most important tools of the therapeutic arsenal in cancerology. 60% cancers are treated by external radiotherapy and 3.8 million treatment sessions are carried out in France each year. The radiotherapy is at the origin of 30 to 40% of the cures - alone or in association with chemotherapy. The radiotherapy treatments became more and more complex these last years with the appearance of new technologies derived from the particle accelerators, capable to carry out sophisticated irradiations, starting from complex ballistics or of modulation of the intensity of the beams. In the field of the internal radiotherapy, innovating therapeutic approaches are made with the development of new biological vectors carrying radioactive isotopes to improve the targeting of the tumoral cells. However, many tumours will remain radioresistant and lead to a failure of the local treatment. The light ions and more particularly the carbons ions should be at the base of the future treatments of such tumours. This was confirmed by the clinical results obtained in Chiba in Japan and Darmstadt in Germany. The other major axis of fight against cancer consists in early diagnosis campaigns. The early tracking of cancer imposes considerable progresses in the medical imagery. These medical imagery systems are used as well for the diagnosis but also to define more powerful strategies of treatment. These tools of imagery are increasingly powerful and complex, by combining several methods of which the nuclear imagery is a major component. In the same time a significant effort is made to develop sophisticated instruments that can be used to guide the surgeon during a chirurgical intervention to locally cure tumors in order to increase the survival of the patients. The nuclear imagery can also be used to the definition and the optimization of the drugs and the strategies of treatment using animal models. Facing the needs to carry out more and more important in vivo studies, a significant effort was initiated in the nineties to adapt or develop systems dedicated to the small animal imaging system. Upstream of technological and clinical research related to the tools of treatment and diagnosis, there exists a vast domain of research and development in biology to include/understand the fundamental mechanisms in cells inducing cancer and of action on the cancer cells. In all these fields, technological R&D is necessary in close cooperation with clinicians and biologists. That is why the French National Institute for High Energy and Nuclear Physics of the CNRS (IN2P3) promote such an R&D activity in its laboratories through a federative and coordinated action. Some significant examples will be presented in this lecture to demonstrate how technologies used for nuclear and high-energy physics experiments could be powerful tools to carry on significant improvements in fighting the cancer.
1 :  LPC - Laboratoire de Physique Corpusculaire [Clermont-Ferrand]
Sciences du Vivant/Cancer

Physique/Physique/Physique Médicale

Sciences du Vivant/Ingénierie biomédicale/Imagerie