Children are her passion
At PSI, Beate Timmermann built up a programme providing proton therapy for children with cancer at the same time she was raising her own son. Today she is head of the Clinic for Particle Therapy at the West German Proton Therapy Centre in Essen (WPE) and is considered one of the most accomplished experts in this field.
Opening: Advanced technology against cancer
With proton therapy, certain tumours can be irradiated with exceptional precision – while, the surrounding healthy tissue is optimally protected. In Switzerland, this kind of radiation therapy is only possible at PSI. In a joint project with the University Hospital Zurich and the University of Zurich, PSI has expanded its capacity with a state-of-the-art treatment facility: the new, 270-ton Gantry 3.
Nowhere in the world have so many ocular tumours been irradiated with protons as at PSI. But before the affected patients go to Villigen, they have to visit Lausanne: for pretreatment at the Jules Gonin Ophthalmic Hospital. The more than 30-year-long collaboration between the hospital and PSI is unique, and in most cases it saves the patient's diseased eye.
Testing the Limits for the Patients' Benefit
Proton therapy is already a success story at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI but researchers remain dedicated to making treatment faster and safer.
Big help for small children
When small children develop cancer, the whole family is affected. Staff at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI’s Centre for Proton Therapy combine target-oriented proton beam irradiation and a caring, warm-hearted atmosphere to help these children.
Getting a Handle on Safety
Proton beams don’t just cure cancer. They can also damage healthy tissue. To make sure that this doesn’t happen, PSI’s Centre for Proton Therapy carries out over 350 safety tests a year. The results speak for themselves: several thousand patients have undergone proton irradiation treatment here in Villigen. There’s never been an accident.
Rays of hope for patients
For over 30 years, patients with a particular form of ocular tumour have been treated at PSI by means of proton irradiation. The tiny particles hit their target with millimetre precision, without endangering other structures of the eye. The irradiation facility OPTIS, developed at the PSI Center for Proton Therapy of the PSI, is a success story, considering that for more than 90 percent of the patients treated to date, the eye could be saved.
Added value for cancer patients
At the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, cancer patients receive a treatment that is unique in Switzerland: proton therapy. This state-of-the-art form of radiation therapy against cancer has major advantages, compared to conventional irradiation, in terms of effectiveness and side-effects. The PSI has its own Center for Proton Therapy dedicated to this special treatment. Its pioneering work has not only helped several thousand patients, but also has fundamentally changed proton therapy worldwide.
Back to life
Doctors had discovered, behind Gabi Meier’s right eye, a tumour that surrounded the optic nerve. Only at the PSI was there still one possibility to treat the tumour in such a way as to preserve neighbouring structures and the eye. A few months after the proton treatment was over, I realised that I could see more and more, she said in an interview. “Just dimly, it’s true, but I could see! That was sensational!”
20 years of high-precision combat against cancer
On 25.11.1996, at the Paul Scherrer Institute PSI, the world’s first cancer patient was treated with a new irradiation method: the so-called spot-scanning technique for proton beams. What’s special about it: The beam has its effect only at the depth where the tumour is located; healthy tissue above and below it is preserved. The method, developed by PSI researchers, was a breakthrough at the time and quickly became a successful product.
Fighting tumours with protons
Interview with Damien Charles WeberDamien Charles Weber has been the head and chief physician of the Centre for Proton Therapy, the only centre of its kind in Switzerland, since 2013. In this interview, he talks about the successes of proton therapy in cancer treatment and the objectives for the next few years in this field.