ENEA - Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l’energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile

01/25/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 01/25/2024 05:48

Health: Radiotherapy, ENEA innovation in breast cancer treatment

Health: Radiotherapy, ENEA innovation in breast cancer treatment

25 January 2024 Last Updated: 25 January 2024

An ENEA research team has developed an innovative prototype called ProBREAST- presented at the International Breast Cancer Day, established by the World Health Organization to raise awareness and promote early detection to treat breast cancer - with more effective and less invasive radiation therapy, protecting normal tissues from collateral damage associated with radiotherapy[1]. ​

In this prototype, created at the laboratory of particle accelerators and medical applications of the ENEA Frascati Research Center, breast cancer patients are placed in a prone rather than supine position to reduce exposure to heart and lungs. Compared to traditional systems, the prototype stands out not just for its quality and radiation efficacy, but also for its lower invasiveness and minimized shielding requirements of the radiology room, which make it particularly suitable for radiotherapy departments, saving cost an time and reducing waiting lists.

ProBREAST, ready for a subsequent phase of engineering and marketing, consists of a table with a circular opening through which the target (breast) is exposed, under which there is a rotating photon source -consisting of a small linear accelerator of electrons of energy 3 MeV (millions of electron Volts) and an electron-X converter, all mounted on a rotating structure.

The apparatus is shielded with a special protective lead "jacket" designed to contain radiation diffused into the room. To characterize the radiation coming from the source, ENEA collaborated with the IFO-IRE[2] oncology hospital in Rome.

"Our objective is "pursuing innovation" by implementing new technologies and strengthening dialogue with companies", pointed out Concetta Ronsivalle, head of the ENEA Laboratory for Particle Accelerators and Medical Applications. "Our laboratory is open to collaboration with the productive world, starting from the transfer of technology and know-how, to build an alliance with companies, encourage open innovation processes and create progress and well-being, which is the objective of TECHEA, the infrastructure we are building at the ENEA Frascati Research Center".

The ProBREAST prototype was created as part of the TECHEA (TECHnology for HEAlth) Project conducted by the ENEA Division of Physical Technologies for Safety and Health, aimed at creating and networking a technological infrastructure for development, validation and launch of system prototypes based on physical technologies, for applications aimed at protecting health. The activity is conducted in collaboration with industrial "end users" interested in marketing more mature prototypes.

In addition to compact accelerators for radiotherapy, ENEA also makes available movable laser spectroscopic sensors for in situ applications in the food sector, wearable fiber optic sensors for monitoring patients during nuclear diagnostics or radiotherapy, radiation detectors for Dosimetry based on lithium fluoride crystals and films.

TECHEA- ProBREAST in the test bunker at the APAM Laboratory of the ENEA Frascati Research Center

For more information please contact:

Concetta Ronsivalle, ENEA - Head of the Particle Accelerators and Medical Applications Laboratory at the Frascati Research Center; ////


[1] PROne Breast Rotating Electron Accelerator System Treatment

[2] Hospital Physiotherapy Institutes- Regina Elena Institute