Proton versus photon therapy for esophageal cancer - a trimodality strategy
PROTECT trial logo


Start Date
End Date
IMI2 - Call 20
Grant agreement number

Type of Action: 
RIA (Research and Innovation Action)

IMI Funding
1 500 000
Associated Partners
1 500 000
1 763 734
Total Cost
4 763 734


Radiotherapy plays a key role in the treatment of many cancers. However, as conventional radiotherapy can cause side effects in surrounding organs, the dose is limited meaning that treatment takes longer and can be less effective. Proton therapy is an innovative form of radiotherapy. As the treatment is more focused on the tumour itself, a higher dose can be delivered while limiting damage to other, healthy organs, leading to shorter treatment for patients, and hopefully, better outcomes.

The aim of the PROTECT-trial project is to compare the results of proton therapy and radiotherapy for people with cancer of the oesophagus whose treatment also includes chemotherapy and surgery. The team will do this by carrying out a clinical trial involving 400 patients in 9 countries. Among other things, they will assess the impact of the two treatments on tumour control, survival, and the severity of side effects.

If the results of the trial come out in favour of proton therapy, it could become a standard treatment option for patients with cancer of the oesophagus. The hope is that with proton therapy, patients will recover faster and experience fewer side effects, dramatically improving their quality of life. The project will also provide evidence of the economic impacts of proton therapy, something which will help with health technology assessment (HTA) and reimbursement decisions in Europe.

Although PROTECT-trial focuses on cancer of the oesophagus, the results will have implications for many other cancers where proton therapy could replace standard radiation therapy.

Participants Show participants on map

Universities, research organisations, public bodies, non-profit groups
  • Aarhus Universitetshospital, Aarhus, Denmark
  • Academisch Ziekenhuis Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
  • Azienda Provinciale Per I Servizi Sanitari, Trento, Italy
  • Centre Antoine Lacassagne, Nice Cedex, France
  • Centre De Lutte Contre Le Cancer Leon Berard, Lyon, France
  • Fondazione Centro Nazionale Di Adroterapia Oncologica, Pavia Pv, Italy
  • Holland Particle Therapy Centre BV, Delft, Netherlands
  • Institut Curie, Paris, France
  • Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium
  • Paul Scherrer Institut, Villigen Psi, Switzerland
  • Stichting Maastricht Radiation Oncology Maastro Clinic, Maastricht, Netherlands
  • Technische Universitaet Dresden, Dresden, Germany
  • The Christie Nhs Foundation Trust, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • University College London, London, United Kingdom
  • University College London Hospitalsnhs Foundation Trust, London, United Kingdom
  • University Of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and mid-sized companies (<€500 m turnover)
  • Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus C, Denmark
Associated partners
  • Ion Beam Applications SA, Ottignies Louvain La Neuve, Belgium
  • Varian Medical Systems Particle Therapy GMBH & Co. Kg, Troisdorf, Germany
Project coordinator
Cai Grau
Aarhus Universitet