Edited by Rolf F. Barth
Boron Neutron Capture Therapy (BNCT) is a noninvasive therapeutic modality for treating locally invasive malignant tumors such as primary brain tumors and recurrent head and neck cancer. It is a two-step procedure: first, the patient is injected with a tumor localizing, non-radioactive boron-10 containing drug that has a high propensity to capture slow neutrons. In the second step, the patient is radiated with epithermal neutrons, which after losing energy as they penetrate tissue, are absorbed by the boron-10, and the resulting nuclear capture and fission reactions yield high-energy alpha particles, thereby killing the cancer cells. It has been used to treat two of the most therapeutically refractory human cancers, high grade gliomas and recurrent cancers of the head and neck region. In theory, it is an ideal type of radiation therapy since it is both physically and biologically targeted.
In this thematic series of papers on BNCT, four reports will summarize some of the successes and failures of BNCT, possible ways to improve its effectiveness, and the challenges that must be surmounted if it ever will become anything more than a seductively attractive but unrealistic therapeutic modality.
This series was published in Cancer Communications.