Antwerp University Hospital aims to attack tumours with flash therapy


Radiotherapy or irradiation is a classic form of cancer cell treatment. Antwerp University Hospital (UZA) is now researching an innovative ultra-fast method of irradiation called flash therapy. The great advantage in this is that healthy tissue is better preserved.

Irradiating cancer patients supersonically fast and with a high dose would be promising, according to UZA. This would completely eliminate the oxygen in the vicinity of the radiotherapy, making the healthy organs less sensitive while targeting the tumour. The flash therapy device is in an underground bunker, which is necessary to keep healthy people away from the radiation. Regular checks take place, requiring the device to be on for 15 minutes or more and even releasing hitherto unseen doses.

At the university's research centre, there is currently plenty of experimentation with mice and rats – by the way, their welfare is strictly monitored. In 2023, they will start looking for patients with aggressive tumours to test out the technique on humans, and in 2024, they hope to start the first studies on humans. In particular, those suffering from an aggressive tumour in the pancreas or brain would be eligible for this promising treatment. For them, there is a great need for better radiation.