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Optimising the treatment of centrally-located lung tumours with spot-scanning proton beam therapy

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr M Taylor, Dr Gareth Price  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Lung cancer accounts for the majority of cancer deaths worldwide but early detection and surgery is playing a major role in changing this. Surgery, however, may not always be possible due to other medical conditions or simply old age. For these cases radiotherapy becomes the main form of therapy. The treatment of centrally-located lung tumours using conventional radiotherapy raises a number of challenges due to the nearby presence of moderately radio-sensitive organs such as the spinal cord, heart and oesophagus, not to mention the surrounding healthy lung tissue that is extremely radio-sensitive. This is complicated further by complex tumour motion due to respiration and other biological processes. 

Proton beam therapy has the potential to significantly improve the outcomes of lung tumour patients due to the excellent dose localisation compared to conventional x-ray radiotherapy. The fundamental interactions of protons with human tissue allows the depth-dose profile to be controlled through the proton beam energy. For spot-scanning proton-beam systems, like the one soon to be employed at the Christie Hospital in Manchester, the dose distribution is inherently sensitive to motion because not only is the tumour moving but so is the proton beam. This relative motion leads to tumour sub-volumes being under or over dosed which has severe clinical implications.

The proposed project will investigate the efficacy of using proton beam therapy to treat centrally-located lung tumours. In particular how the distortion of the planned dose distribution can be minimised or alleviated using different scanning patterns and/or beam tracking technology.

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area/subject. Candidates with previous laboratory experience are particularly encouraged to apply.

How To Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select the appropriate subject title.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website”

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (


• R. Timmerman et al., “Excessive toxicity when treating central tumors in a phase II study of stereotactic body radiation therapy for medically inoperable early-stage lung cancer”. J Clin Oncol Off. J. Am. Soc. Clin. Oncol. (2006) 24:4833–9
• M. Saito et al., “Evaluation of T factor, surgical method, and prognostic factors in central type lung cancer”. Jpn J Thorac Cardiovasc Surg Off Publ Jpn Assoc Thorac Surg, Nihon Kyōbu Geka Gakkai Zasshi. (2002); 50:413–7
• Wang et al., “Cardiac Toxicity After Radiotherapy for Stage III Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer: Pooled Analysis of Dose-Escalation Trials Delivering 70 to 90 Gy”. J Clin. Oncol. (2017) 35:1387-1394
• C. Bert et al., “Quantification of interplay effects of scanned particle beams and moving targets”. Phys. Med. Biol., 53 (2008), 2253-2265
• G.J. Price et al., “Real-time optical measurement of the dynamic body surface for use in guided radiotherapy.” Physics in medicine and biology 57(2) p415–436 (2012)
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