Radiotherapy is extensively employed in the treatment of tumors and, as of late, other pathological conditions. Since its establishment, concerns have been raised about the risks that patients undergo while receiving a therapeutic dose, which might give rise to life-threatening side effects like secondary malignancies. Advances in radiotherapy research highlight how the hadron therapy might be a valid instrument to complement the conventional radiotherapy for a distinct group of solid tumors. Due to the physical properties of the ion beams, the dose delivered is minimal in healthy tissues and highest in the target site, compared to photon-based radiotherapy. Furthermore, ion beams (especially carbon) show an increased biological effectiveness when compared to conventional radiotherapy.
This article presents the physical properties of ion beams as well as the way such radiation is generated and harnessed, and discusses potential benefits and side effects.