Pencil-beam scanning is a dynamic beam-delivery system in which a proton beam is actively scanned throughout the target tumour volume. During a treatment, the transverse beam position, longitudinal beam position (range) and dose are precisely controlled and adjusted to deliver the prescribed dose in the target.

Compared to conventional passive scattering techniques used to treat cancer with protons, pencil-beam scanning provides improved three-dimensional conformity to the target. This can allow for improved sparing of organs-at-risk and healthy tissues.

"This approval is a significant step forward in ensuring that proton therapy continues to advance and employ the most innovative and effective treatment modes available," said IBA's CEO Pierre Mottet. "Proton-therapy professionals and their patients will now be able to experience firsthand the myriad therapeutic benefits of employing pencil-beam scanning technology to combat cancer."

"We are pleased to be among the first hospital-based particle-therapy facilities to add pencil-beam scanning to our complement of delivery modalities," commented Jay Flanz, technical director of the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center.

The pencil-beam scanning delivery method now forms one of the four treatment-delivery methods incorporated in IBA's Universal Nozzle. The nozzle also enables uniform scanning, double scattering and single scattering - offering proton-therapy practitioners the flexibility to easily select the preferred beam-delivery method.

IBA is the first company with a cyclotron-based proton therapy system to receive approval from the FDA for pencil-beam scanning. The company is currently seeking approvals to market pencil-beam scanning in other countries around the world.