National Physical Laboratory
Figuratively speaking, photons are what electromagnetic radiation is made of. The term “light particles” is also used frequently. Every electromagnetic radiation, from radio waves to gamma radiation, is quantised in photons. This means that the smallest amount of electromagnetic radiation of any frequency is a photon. Photons have an infinite natural life, but can be produced or destroyed by a variety of physical processes. A photon is never at rest but always moves at the speed of light. Therefore it has no rest mass.
A proton gantry is a rotating device allowing the irradiation of a tumour from different directions with a proton beam. It is therefore not necessary to move the area to be irradiated.
Radiation biology, as an interdisciplinary science, studies the biological effects of ionising and non ionising radiation. It works with molecular, cytogenetic and cytometric methods in different organisms and cell systems. At DNA level, radiation-induced mutagenesis and its repair is being investigated.
Radiation therapy (radiotherapy, radiation oncology) deals with the medical use of ionising radiation on humans and animals to cure disease or retard its progression. As ionising, high-energy beams mainly gamma rays, X-rays and electrons are used. In recent years, plants for treatment with neutrons, protons, and carbon ions have been built. Radiation therapy includes the treatment of benign and malignant diseases.
The synchrotron is a circular particle accelerator that can accelerate charged fundamental particles or ions to very high (relativistic) velocities. For acceleration, a suitably synchronised high-frequency alternating electric field (microwaves) is used. In order to keep the particles on a closed track, the magnetic fields of the electromagnets in use need to be readjusted depending on the achieved energy of the particles. To avoid the loss of particles by collisions with gas particles, the particle trajectory lies in a complete vacuum tube system with ultra high vacuum.
A tumour board is a multidisciplinary tumour committee, where experts from various clinical areas such as surgery, radiotherapy, radiology, and oncology meet at regular intervals to determine the therapeutic method for patients with tumours. With this interdisciplinary review of individual cases, each patient can obtain a tailor-made treatment according to the latest discoveries in medical science.