Iran opens first ion therapy center in West Asia

July 27, 2021 - 21:35

TEHRAN – Iran inaugurated on Tuesday an advanced ion therapy center for the first time in West Asia, which will provide definitive treatment for all types of cancer by the next year.

With the aim of definite treatment of cancer using radiation with a synchrotron system, the center was designed in 2016 and its construction started in 2019.

This project is one of the largest national projects that has been pursued in cooperation with several countries around the world. This technology exists only in six countries around the world.

Today, with the presence of Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization, the equipment testing phase was performed and it will be ready by the next year (March 2021-March 2022).

Salehi said that some 200 million Euros have been allocated to equip the center, which was fully financed by the investors. Its construction also costed a total of 10 trillion (nearly $238 million at the official rate of 42,000 rials).

The center is unique in West Asia and is the seventh hospital in the world to be built with advanced equipment, he added.

Ion therapy is a unique and innovative form of radiation therapy in the world for the treatment of cancer, as the radiation can be focused exactly on the area of the tumor, ensuring that radiation-sensitive organs are best protected.

The method of therapy is based on the physical characteristics of ions – electrically charged particles, which enter the human tissue with enormous speed and accuracy, thereby releasing energy.

The released energy causes damage to the DNA of the cancer cells and destroys the tumor without damaging the healthy tissue.

--------------- Iran's achievements in fight against cancer

The development of cancer caregivers and specialists, increasing the number of service providers, and implementation of early diagnosis programs, along with support by NGOs and charities are the major steps Iran has taken in the fight against cancer.

Referring to the annual identification of 135,000 new cases of cancer in Iran, Ali Ghanbari-Motlagh, head of the cancer prevention department of the Ministry of Health said that the National Cancer Registration Program, implemented in 2017, reported that among the 135,000 annual cancer cases registered in the country, 52 percent are men and 48 percent women.

Pointing to breast and prostate cancer as the most common cancers in women and men, respectively, he said that cancers of the breast, prostate, colon, skin, and gastric are the five common in the country.
Lifestyle changes in recent years have led to prostate cancer replacing gastric cancer in men since the Iranian calendar year 1390 (March 2011-March 2012), he added.

National cancer control program

The national cancer control program was developed using the experiences of other countries, in particular, the World Health Organization’s recommendations and the experts’ opinions, which sets out the Ministry of Health’s roadmap up to the Iranian calendar year 1404 (March 2025- March 2026).

The purpose of the program is to reduce cancer prevalence and mortality while improving the quality of patients’ lives, which can serve as a model for other countries, especially in the Eastern Mediterranean region.

The cancer preparation program was designed to determine the infrastructure and manpower needed over the next 6 years, to determine the type of centers, equipment, and distribution throughout the country using a geographic information system (GIS).

The program includes two important documents, namely, “development of national cancer care network” and “development of cancer human resources”, which resulted in the establishment of the early diagnostic centers.

Prevalence in the world

Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, accounting for an estimated 9.6 million deaths, or one in six deaths, in 2018. Lung, prostate, colorectal, stomach, and liver cancer are the most common types of cancer in men, while breast, colorectal, lung, cervical, and thyroid cancer are the most common among women.

Ghanbari-Motlagh went on to note that 16 percent of annual deaths, amounting to 51,000, are related to cancer, which makes it the second leading cause of death in the country after cardiovascular diseases.

Some 14 percent of Iranians develop cancer during their lifetime, which is lower than the world average of 20 percent. Also, 7 percent of cancer patients die, while the probability of recovery is 50 percent.

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