Treating Lung Cancer

Treating Lung Cancer


The UMCG Radiotherapy department treats around 200 lung cancer patients every year.
This treatment uses state-of-the-art photon radiotherapy technology (VMAT).
As of the end of 2017, the UMCG will also be able to treat tumours using protons. In principle, this type of proton therapy can also be applied to lung cancer.

Proton Therapy for Lung Cancer

Treatment of lung cancers involves directing a high dose of radiation at the lungs, while limiting the dose as much as possible to the surrounding healthy organs, such as the heart, the oesophagus, and any healthy lung tissue.
Modern photon radiation treatments have already shown to substantially restrict high doses of radiation to healthy organs, thereby preventing delayed side-effects. In some cases, proton therapy allows for an even greater reduction in radiation to healthy organs, thus lowering the possibility of delayed side-effects even further.

The following images show examples of a photon and a proton radiation treatment plan.

A Photon Radiation Plan (left) and a Proton Radioation plan (right). A Photon Radiation Plan (left) and a Proton Radioation plan (right).

A comparisson of a long radiation treatment using Photons and Protons.

The image on the left shows a radiation plan for photon radiation therapy. The light orange area and the white areas show that parts of the lungs will receive unwanted radiation. This radiation therapy increases the risk of adverse side effects. The light orange and white areas in the image on the right is are clearly smaller for proton radiation compared to irradiation with photons. The risk of adverse side effects for the patient mayis therefore be lower in the latter case.

Eligibility for Proton Therapy

Not all patients with lung cancer require proton therapy. The use of proton radiotherapy may be considered for patients who would be at an increased risk of suffering from side effects related to the dose delivered to the lungs, heart, or other organs. To determine whether you might benefit from proton therapy, two radiation plans will be drafted prior to your treatment: one using photons, and another using protons. Both treatment plans are reviewed for their probability of side effects. The most suitable type of radiation treatment is then determined based on these reviews. 

Expected Availability in Groningen

The UMCG expects to be able to treat lung cancer patients using proton radiotherapy as of the end of 2017, specifically at the UMC Groningen Proton Therapy Centre, part of the UMCG Radiotherapy department. Proton treatments will not be available at our remote facility in Emmen. 

Your Physicians

The following radiotherapeutic-oncologists of the Radiotherapy department specialise in the treatment of lung cancer patients. 

M. Beijert, MSc M. Beijert, MSc
A.H.D. van der Leest, MSc A.H.D. van der Leest, MSc
 J.F. Ubbels, MSc J.F. Ubbels, MSc
M. Woltman- van Iersel, MSc M. Woltman- van Iersel, MSc

Additional information

More information about lung cancer, such as causes, complaints, research, treatment, and aftercare, can be found here.

More information about the UMCG’s multidisciplinary lung cancer treatment team can be found here.