Chinese proton machine treats its 100th patient

Cai Wenjun
Nation's first domestically-made proton radiation system allows Chinese patients to receive advanced radiation treatment at a lower cost, Ruijin Hospital officials said.
Cai Wenjun
Chinese proton machine treats its 100th patient
Ti Gong

Medics at Ruijin Hospital's north branch operate the nation's first domestically-made proton system.

China's first domestically-made proton radiation system has treated 100 patients including three children and minor cases at Ruijin Hospital's north branch.

The system started trial operation in July last year and was approved for official operation in November. The 100th patient on Tuesday marks a milestone for domestic ability in high-end medical equipment and allows Chinese patients to receive advanced radiation treatment at a lower cost, hospital officials said.

Proton is one of the most advanced cancer radiation treatments in the world. It can target cancer without damaging the nearby healthy tissue, achieving a precise attack. Due to the expensive equipment imported from abroad, the cost of proton treatment in China is high.

This first domestic proton machine is a major breakthrough in Chinese medical technology. The cost is 40,000 yuan (US$5,556) for the first therapy and 15,000 yuan for each follow-up treatment. The maximum cost of each treatment is set at 170,000 yuan, almost half that charged by the Shanghai Proton and Heavy Ion Center, whose Germany-imported machine costs about 300,000 yuan for each treatment duration.

"Based on the domestic proton machine, we have developed a clinical guidance by ourselves and perfected the medical practice and formed our own technical standard and instruction, especially targeting cancers prevalent among Chinese," said Dr Chen Jiayi, director of Ruijin Hospital's radiation department.

Among the 100 patients, 29 cases had cancers on the head or neck, 35 with breast cancer, 22 with cancer in the chest, nine in the belly or pelvic cavity and five with cancer on the spine or limbs.

"Our clinical practice has involved all sections of cancer treatment and all patients report a smooth process, without serious toxic effects," Chen said. "Some patients have already shown positive outcomes."

The medical cost of proton treatment is not paid by government-run medical insurance but covered by commercial insurance and huhuibao, a private budget supplementary medical insurance for Shanghai residents.

Special Reports