Global democratisation of proton radiotherapy

Lancet Oncol. 2023 Jun;24(6):e245-e254. doi: 10.1016/S1470-2045(23)00184-5.


Proton radiotherapy is an advanced treatment option compared with conventional x-ray treatment, delivering much lower doses of radiation to healthy tissues surrounding the tumour. However, proton therapy is currently not widely available. In this Review, we summarise the evolution of proton therapy to date, together with the benefits to patients and society. These developments have led to an exponential growth in the number of hospitals using proton radiotherapy worldwide. However, the gap between the number of patients who should be treated with proton radiotherapy and those who have access to it remains large. We summarise the ongoing research and development that is contributing to closing this gap, including the improvement of treatment efficiency and efficacy, and advances in fixed-beam treatments that do not require an enormously large, heavy, and costly gantry. The ultimate goal of decreasing the size of proton therapy machines to fit into standard treatment rooms appears to be within reach, and we discuss future research and development opportunities to achieve this goal.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Neoplasms* / radiotherapy
  • Proton Therapy*
  • Protons
  • Radiotherapy
  • Radiotherapy Dosage
  • Radiotherapy Planning, Computer-Assisted


  • Protons