Fast Neutron Therapy
Fast neutron therapy is a specialized and very powerful form of external beam radiation therapy. It is often used to treat certain tumors that are radioresistant, meaning they are very difficult to kill using conventional X-ray radiation therapy. It has proven to be very effective at treating salivary gland tumors and certain forms of cancer, such as adenoid cystic carcinoma.
Neutrons have a greater biologic impact on cells than other types of radiation. However, neutrons do not damage all cells to the same extent, and in some cases, are more damaging to cancerous cells than to healthy cells surrounding the cancer. Thus, for the same amount of radiation, a lethal dose can be delivered to the cancer cells, while a sub-lethal dose is delivered to the healthy tissue. Used carefully, this added impact can be an advantage in certain situations.
The UW Medical Cyclotron Facility is the only one of its kind used to treat patients in the United States and one of two available for clinical use in the world.