Nuclear physics as cancer therapy


This technology is based on “high intensity” proton bundles and has fewer side effects than chemotherapy. The IST’s technological and nuclear campus in Loures, Portugal, will be able to receive the new patient treatment unit, 2022.

Manuel Heitor, Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, used his participation in the 61st General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna to gather some technical support. In statements to the Lusa agency, he also revealed that Portugal hopes to obtain the support of CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research, and also of the American university of Texas, since the city of Houston has a cancer treatment unit with high-energy proton nuclear technology.

According to the minister, this technology that allows the effective treatment of cancers that cannot be treated in more conventional ways is also used with applications in oncology in Germany, the United Kingdom and Switzerland and is already being studied in Spain.

The project to create a new health unit capable of treating 700 cancer patients annually involves an investment of around 100 million euros, which Manuel Heitor believes can be supported by Community funds and by reimbursable funds from the European Investment Bank. All its operation can be carried out in the technological and nuclear campus of the Superior Technical Institute, in Bobadela, Loures, taking advantage of the “greater concentration of technicians in nuclear sciences and technologies”.

Basically, it is “reorienting a lot of this capacity for oncology therapies”, he said, noting that the “possibility of training more technicians” emerged this school year with more openings in higher education in physics, thinking about medical application.

This week, at the opening of the 61st General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Director-General Yukiya Amano recalled that the use of nuclear technologies in human health “helps save millions of lives annually” works with governments to increase countries’ experience in radiotherapy and nuclear medicine”.