The Questions of Synchrotron Accelerators vs. Cyclotrons, and Carbon Ions vs. Protons.




These are questions that every procurement and planning team, administrator and technologist, physicist and  physician should be asking today.

Past, Present, and Future

Cyclotrons have been successfully used in this industry to accelerate protons for medical treatment.  Until now, cyclotron based proton systems have been a logical choice.  That is the PAST.

PRESENTLY,  the face of this industry is in a dynamic stage of transformation.  For the past 16 years, the use of carbon ions in the fight against cancer has been steadily proving what the laws of physics have always told us.  Carbon Ions are 12 times bigger and heavier than Protons.  When fighting cancer, the goal is to make double breaks in the DNA strands.  The greater energy and size of Carbon Ions increases their capability to accomplish this mission.  Today, the increased efficacy of Carbon Ions vs. Protons is no longer in question.  The evidence is obvious.

New cancer centers looking into the FUTURE must take into account the trend of the industry shifting towards the application of  Carbon Ions to fight cancer.  With over 10 times the cancer killing energy than protons, this technology, available today, cannot be ignored in the future.

Bowling Balls vs. Baseballs:

Maybe an analogy of going bowling with a baseball compared to bowling with a full size bowling ball could illustrate the point.  The bowling ball is bigger, heavier and more efficient in knocking down the pins than a baseball.  It will get the job done with less well placed throws.  The baseball is capable of doing the job, but since it is lighter and smaller, at best, it will take many more tries, and much more time to do the same mission.  Of course Carbon Ions are like the bigger, heavier bowling ball.  The bowling pins represent the cancer cells that need to be knocked out.  The baseball is like using Protons to knock down the pins.

Clinical Results of Carbon Ion Treatment:

The clinical results from over 8,000 patients treated with Carbon Ions over the past 16 years, have now brought the industry to a tipping point. Huge investments have been, and are being made  to build full Carbon Ion clinical cancer centers, each capable of treating thousands of patients per year in Japan, Germany, and China.  These centers have started coming online in 2010, and continue to grow in numbers.  The reason is that the incredible results using carbon ions have spoken for themselves.  Compared to protons, carbon ions reducee the required number of treatments by a factor of 2 to 40 times!  The economics and the shere increased number of patients that a Carbon Ion center can potentially treat, are just impossible to ignore.  The shortened treatment time period and reduced number of treatments results in much less stress for the patient.  There are many centers in the USA that have expressed their desire to set up a Carbon Ion cancer treatment center, but currently have no option because of the lack of the availability of an FDA approved system.  Bragg Peak Systems has taken on this mission to provide that FDA approved Carbon Ion system. 

Tough Choices for New Cancer Centers Making Hardware Decisions Today.

Today, cancer centers face the dilemma that if they build a straight proton system using cyclotrons, they have no way to upgrade to a synchrotron Carbon Ion system.  They will be left in the dust with older technology.  This could mean that it will be much harder to compete financially and technologically in the future against Carbon Ion treatment.

Bragg Peak addresses this dilemma with our upgradable synchrotron systems.  A center currently without enough budget to procure a full blown carbon ion system, can start with protons today, and upgrade to carbon ions in the future.  The cancer center is assured that it can keep up with technological advances in this field, and stay competitive financially, technically, clinically and academically in the future.

Pitfalls of using Cyclotrons for Accelerating Carbon Ions

Current research is ongoing in the use of cyclotrons to accelerate carbon ions.  However accelerating protons from the center of a cyclotron to half the speed of light compared to accelerating carbon ions with so much more mass has been an elusive challenge.  Stability, technical and reliability issues, and even maintenance issues in the future hang as a big question mark over the ability of cyclotrons to accelerate carbon ions in a clinical setting..   Scientists have been trying to resolve technical issues related to using cyclotrons to accelerate carbon ions for the past 10 years, and are not yet close to the stability and reliability levels required for clinical usage. 

Advantages of using Synchrotrons to Accelerate Carbon Ions.

On the other hand, accelerating protons and carbon ions with synchrotrons is  technically straightforward.  Synchrotrons have been used to accelerate carbon ions at the levels appropriate to medical  usage for decades already.  It is reliable, proven technology. Currently, large  synchrotrons and colliders accelerate particles at 10,000 times the energy needed for medical usage.   This is why Bragg Peak is solidly behind bringing an FDA approved Carbon Ion system to market powered by synchrotron accelerators.  It is the best, most reliable and safest choice available today, and for a long time to come.


Bragg Peak Systems offers cancer centers a perfect combination of solutions that will be a competitive advantage for decades to come.  Our flagship Bragg Peak Akuritron Omni Carbon Ion System, we offer a system that will be FDA approved, based on reliable and proven technology from the best available partners in this industry.

With our Akuritron Pro Proton System, a cancer center is assured that they still have option to upgrade in the future into a Carbon Ion system.  This protection and insurance against being stuck with older technology a decade from now is crucially important when investing such a large sum of money into starting a Proton center.

Bragg Peak Systems.  The logical choice today, when considering the future.

 Trend for Carbon Ions in the Future

Comparison of Patient Throughput