EFOMP-ECMP Warm-up webinar on Proton and Flash Radiotherapy

Publication Date: Apr 3rd, 2021 09:28, Category: EFOMP Announcements

EFOMP-ECMP Warm-up webinar on Proton & Flash Therapy.

This second "warm-up webinar" is a precursor to the 3rd European Congress of Medical Physics (ECMP 2020) which will take place virtually in June 2021.

In this webinar we are very fortunate to have two expert speakers who are actively working in these two areas. After the talks, there will be time for discussion with the speakers. 


The webinar will take place Friday April 23rd at 12:00 PM CET.

The recording is available at EFOMP e-learning!



Opening: Paddy Gilligan

Chair introduction: Brendan McClean (5 min)



An overview is given of Proton therapy, from its initial proposal by Robert Wilson until modern day application within a hospital environment. Proton therapy offers the ability to treat cancer with reduced toxicity. However, because proton beams are very sensitive to many factors such as motion, range uncertainties and setup errors, there full clinical potential has yet to be achieved. In the talk, we review several modern technologies that are being developed to maximize the potential of proton therapy. Technologies such as pre-treatment dual energy computed tomography (DECT), in-room anatomical imaging with MRI, prompt gamma imaging for beam monitoring real-time during treatment, proton FLASH etc.  

Recent preclinical studies have shown that FLASH irradiation, which is radiation delivered in a fraction of a second, reduces incidence and severity of radiation side effects compared to conventional irradiation used in clinical practice. However, the treatment effect on tumours is not reduced. This is called the “FLASH” effect. The benefit of FLASH radiotherapy has been further shown in veterinarian clinical studies and in the first treatment of a human. FLASH radiotherapy uses irradiators with a high radiation output that allows for the treatment to be delivered in fractions of a second, compared to several minutes for conventional treatments.
The short treatment times used in FLASH radiotherapy, often less than 0.1 s, have the added value of minimising treatment delivery uncertainties caused by patient motion during delivery, for example, a reduced risk of missing a lung tumour due to the breathing motion. Carefully implemented, this would allow for smaller volumes of normal tissue being unnecessarily irradiated. Given both the radiobiological advantageous FLASH effect and its potential to “freeze” physiological motion, FLASH radiotherapy has the potential to be an important (r)evolutionary step in cancer treatment. However, we do not yet understand the biology underpinning the FLASH effect.
In this presentation, “ideal” FLASH beam characteristics will be discussed, different beam quality options available, and the challenges with producing and using such beams for clinical FLASH treatments.



Professor Joao Seco graduated with a PhD from the University of London, at the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and Royal Marsden Hospital in London, UK. He then went on to become an Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School in Boston, working at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). He then returned to Europe to work at the German Cancer Research Center, DKFZ in Heidelberg, heading up a new group dedicated to ion beam research and with the focus on 1) novel imaging technologies to reduce Bragg peak positioning errors in patients and 2) on investigating the mechanism of radiation triggered DNA damage via reactive oxygen species. He is also presently the Chair of Medical Physics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, Heidelberg University and is a member of the EFOMP Scientific Committee and a member of the EFOMP School, representing the DGMP, German Society for Medical Physics.


Dr Kristoffer Petersson is  a researcher and Medical Physicist from Helsingborg, Sweden. He graduated with a PhD in Medical Radiation Physics from Lund University, Sweden and a Post-doc on FLASH Radiation in Lausanne, Switzerland.  From 2017, he was Clinical Medical Physicist, Group leader on FLASH Radiotherapy, Skåne University Hospital, Sweden and from 2019 MRC Investigator, Group leader – Biology and Physics of FLASH Radiation, Oxford Institute for Radiation Oncology, UK. His research ambitions are to further improve the knowledge in the field of Medical Radiation Physics and Radiobiology. with a  goal to improve on current clinical practice in radiotherapy, to achieve a more efficient patient treatment and with less adverse effect for the patients. With that goal in mind, the last seven years he focused his research on FLASH radiation, i.e. radiation delivered at ultra- high dose rates. Currently, he is heading one of the most prominent teams in the world in this field of radiation research, at the University of Oxford. FLASH radiation is a novel radiotherapy technique that show great potential in improving cancer treatment. However, very little is known about the biological mechanisms behind the highly beneficial FLASH effect. His research team aims to identify these mechanisms, explain the effect, and to find the optimal way of implementing the technique in clinical practice.


We hope you will enjoy this ECMP warm-up event!

Mika Kortesniemi, ECMP2020 President and the Congress Planning Committee





An EFOMP school edition on Particle Therapy where related topics (proton and flash therapy) have been presented, took place in December 2020. All videorecordings are accessible via EFOMP e-learning paltform.