More than 100 participants from Asia, South America, Europe and North America attended the second edition of the Inaugural Course on Proton Therapy, hosted by Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, PA from November 21 to 23, 2015. This second edition of the Inaugural Course included updated information and new insights into proton therapy, obtained over the past year.

Grégory Saive, ProteusONE Product Manager and Service Development Manager at IBA, is one of the driving forces behind the training program. “The volume of material has dramatically increased,” he says. “Nevertheless, we respected our timeline and the busy schedules of our participants, who are physicians, physicists and healthcare decision-makers. Proton therapy is a field in constant evolution, and in developing this course session’s program, Penn Medicine made sure to include relevant new breakthroughs, such as proof of treatment efficacy and provisional findings of ongoing research studies. As clinical studies increase in number, I’m confident that the program will continue to improve to reflect the immediate needs and interests of participants. For the next run, we are already considering including more lectures about the cost-effectiveness of proton therapy treatment, after a proper analysis.”

According to Grégory Saive, the main purpose of the Inaugural Course is to increase awareness and understanding of proton therapy. “There are still too many misconceptions about its level of complexity, price or the range of indications eligible for proton therapy,” he says. “We want the medical community to grasp that and understand how proton therapy can be a valuable asset to any cancer treatment program.”

Has the purpose been achieved? Course participants say that it has. “As a physicist, I learned a lot from the treatment planning process class, which offered the occasion to solve dilemmas in a smaller group of participants,” says Eva Medel Báez, Assistant Professor Radiation Technologies and Medical Physics at the BUAP University in Mexico. “I also very much enjoyed the explanation of the physics of proton therapy and was impressed by the clinical trials for CNS and head and neck tumors. I would encourage all future proton therapy users to attend this course, whether you are an administrator, medical physicist, radiation oncologist, radiation technologist, proton therapy researcher or dosimetrist. My fellow-attendee and I are now armed with multi-fold supporting arguments regarding financing, benefits, administration, development and collaboration options to promote and work towards the acquisition of a proton therapy installation at our own institution.”

Dr. Maria Jose Alves, Radiation Oncologist and Director of the Radiation Therapy Department of the Hospital do Servidor Público de São Paulo (IAMSPE) at Sao Paulo in Brazil, agrees that any physicist or radiation oncologist would benefit from this kind of training program. She would encourage administrators to subscribe as well. “I can’t say any aspect of the course stood out above the others. I was equally fascinated by the technical and dosimetric considerations as I was wrapped up in the financial implications of installing a proton therapy facility. I was also very interested in the introduction to treatment planning, and impressed by the overview of the clinical program at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. I would like to obtain access to a proton therapy facility for my hospital,” she says.

“I attended with one of my master students, as we have already worked on computer simulations of basic interactions in proton matter and would like to do some more in-depth research,” explains Hector Castro, Associate Professor at the Physics Department of the National University of Colombia. “We finished this training program with the feeling that cost reductions have brought a proton therapy installation within reach of our country. I hope that the Director and the Dean of the Medicine Faculty of our University Hospital, as well as board members of the National Cancer Institute (Instituto Nacional de Cancer - Colombia) will be able to attend the next run of this course.”

“The feedback from the program surveys confirm that we are on target with the content of this training program,” Grégory Saive concludes. “No less than 70% of the attendees took the time to answer our feedback surveys, on a mostly positive note. We’ve already received requests for the next edition, and we’re seeing that institutions that sent representatives to the first editions are looking to send new participants, citing the quality of our training.”


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