Finland to debut new high-powered reactor for cancer treatment

The new Boron Neutron Capture Treatment will be available in Helsinki, where it will be used to treat patients with recurring cancers of the head and neck.

The Helsinki and Uusimaa hospital district HUS has invested in a medically-modified Boron Neutron Capture device that can be used for treating the most intractable cancers. The device will be installed on the cancer ward of the Helsinki University Central Hospital’s (HYKS), where it will initially be used to treat patients with recurring cancers of the head and neck - writes

The prelude to the upcoming foray into boron neutron capture treatment in Finland dates back to the years between 1999 and 2011, when Finnish medical professionals experimented with the use of a small research nuclear reactor to treat cancer.

“The treatment results with the Boron Neutron Capture Treatment were extremely promising. In some patients with recurring cancers in the cranial and neck areas, the tumour tissue disappeared completely and in others it shrank. We were able to stabilise the disease in some patients -- in other words, the growth of tumour tissue stopped,” explained Leila Valtavirta, medical chief of staff of the HYKS cancer ward.

However a regular reactor is poorly suited to medical use in a hospital. As a result, in spite of its promising results, boron neutron capture treatment has not become a common form of cancer care.

HUS therefore commissioned the world’s first commercial BNCT device to be used for radiation treatment from the US-based company Neutron Therapeutics.

Combination therapies most effective against cancer

BNCT will initially be used to treat recurring cancers of the head and neck regions. However, the same technique will also be used against other kinds of cancers.

According to HYKS lead physicist Mikko Tenhunen, the new approach to cancer treatment works on completely different principles from existing radiation machines.

“Before treatment the patient receives a drug containing boron, which accumulates in the tumour. We can then focus neutron radiation on the tumour. This helps focus nearly twice as much radiation in the right place,” he added.

The radiation used in the session is very short range, so it does not affect the patient’s healthy tissue. Better targeting of more intense radiation yields better treatment results and produces less strain on the patient than conventional methods.

“One or two treatment sessions are required, compared to perhaps a five-week course of regular radiation therapy,” Tenhunen commented.

Hope from Finland for overseas cancer patients

Up to one in three Finns will suffer from cancer at some stage in their lives. Nearly two-thirds of cancer patients will survive. Approximately 91 percent of patients had a life expectancy of five years after their initial diagnosis.

According to a recently-published international comparison, Finland has one of the highest survival rates for cancer . Experts hope use of the BNCT machine will help improve the prospects for cancer patients.

“This is great for Finnish cancer patients and eventually for overseas patients as well,” said cancer ward chief Leila Vaalavirta.

The machine itself is not cheap, however. Hospital officials hope that in addition to helping non-Finnish patients, the device will also be an income-earner. So far officials say that interest in the treatment option has come from places such as China and Saudi Arabia.
BoronNeutronCaptureTreatment Helsinki
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in january
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

The coach of a sports club in Hyvinkää, southern Finland has been remanded into police custody on suspicion of sexual abuse of minors he was coaching, the Itä-Uusimaa police department said on Thursday. Officials said that they are investigating the case as suspected child abuse but did not disclose the ages of the alleged victims. The suspect in the case, a 50-year-old man, was remanded into custody on Wednesday. The suspected sexual abuse is believed to...
Finns increasingly forego do-it-yourself construction of prefab elements in favour of completely completed homes. Turnkey homes (where homes are fully finished and owners can immediately occupy them) have become more popular than traditional house packages, says the Finnish Association for Manufacturers of Prefabricated Houses. “About 7,500 detached homes are built in Finland every year, and about 70 percent of them are prefabricated houses of some kind,”...
THE FESTIVE ATMOSPHERE in the Helsinki neighbourhood of Arabianranta was visibly subdued on Tuesday, as residents mourned the death of a local child who is believed to have been murdered. While little information has been released to the public, it is known that the victim was murdered near their home on the night of Christmas Eve (December 24). The police apprehended a suspect at the scene of the crime, who has been confirmed as a 36-year old male. Whethe...
One of Finland’s most famous seafaring vessels, the titanic icebreaker Otso, was deployed on its first mission of the winter season last night, keeping sea routes open for the 22nd year in a row. Late in the evening of Christmas Day, Otso, the crowning glory of Arctia Oy’s extensive fleet, departed from Helsinki’s Katajanokka Harbour, heading north to the Bay of Bothnia. The 7000-ton Polar icebreaker has been tasked with keeping waterways open between Oulu...
Eight Finnish political parties have published their a statement on future climate policy goals in Finland. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä (Centre) in November invited all nine parliamentary parties to join a task force established to find an agreement on new, more ambitious climate goals for Finland. The one-month project was led by Kimmo Tiilikainen (Centre), the Minister of the Environment, Energy and Housing. The Finns Party abandoned the task force last w...
A 25-year-old man suspected of the sexual abuse of a girl under the age of 15 in Oulu, northwestern Finland, who was arrested in Germany last Tuesday is now reported to be at large. According to law enforcement officials in Oulu, the suspect was released by German police before he could be transferred to Finnish custody due to "a breakdown in communication between authorities". Oulu District Court ordered the suspect to be reprimanded into custody in absen...
Finland’s high earners saw their real income grow more in 2017 than their peers in middle and low income groups, according to new data released by Statistics Finland on Tuesday. Incomes among the country’s highest income decile rose by 4.4 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, while the year-on-year increase was 1.3 percent for middle income earners. Incomes for the four lowest income deciles meanwhile grew by 1.2 percent over the one-year period. However amon...
A man wanted in connection with a suspected arson attempt on a home in Helsinki’s Käpylä district was remanded into police custody on Sunday. The Helsinki district court has remanded a man suspected of attempted arson and attempted murder into police custody, ending a short-lived manhunt, police said on Sunday. The 25 year-old is suspected of using a Molotov cocktail to cause a fire at a flat in Käpylä, Helsinki last Monday. The apartment was completely de...
Helsinki Central Library Oodi will opened its doors to the public on 5 December at 8am, a day before Finland’s 101st birthday. Designed by ALA Architects, this library of a new era is an ode to Finnish culture, equality and freedom of expression. Oodi offers everyone an open, public urban space at Kansalaistori Square, right opposite Parliament House. Central Library Oodi is an active and functional meeting point with 2.5 million expected annual visitors....