CNAO Foundation – National Centre of Oncology Adrotherapy

  • Address

    Strada Campeggi 53, 27100 Pavia

  • Founded


  • Field

    Oncological Hadrontherapy Center

  • Website

  • Email

  • Phone

    +39 0382 078.1

  • Socials

Scientific director

Prof.ssa Lisa Licitra

The National Center of Adrotherapy Oncology (CNAO) in Pavia is a non-profit, innovative and technologically advanced foundation established in 2001 by the Ministry of Health to create and manage an adrotherapy center for the treatment of resistant radio-cancers that are inoperable by the use of carbon ions and proton.

For the first time, a machine was built in Italy whose characteristics were specifically suitable for treating cancer rather than performing physics experiments. The treatment of tumours with adrotherapy requires a particle accelerator, the synchrotron, to accelerate carbon ions and protons at speeds close to that of light to acquire the energy necessary to treat the tumour. The CNAO synchrotron obtained the CE marking as a medical device from the  Italian National Institute of Health.

Hadrontherapy at the CNAO is provided within the National Health System for diseases included in the LEA. Other diseases can be treated according to the clinical protocols in place at CNAO. The treatments have proven to be reliable, safe, and effective.

Highly qualified professionals work in synergy to provide patients with the best treatment prospects.

Adrotherapy is an advanced form of radiotherapy that uses carbon ions or protons, unlike the “conventional” use of X-rays. Carbon ions cause DNA damage three times greater than that generated by conventional radiotherapy, saving the surrounding healthy tissues.

Based on clinical protocols defined and shared, patients are preselected and referred to the CNAO for treatments, maintaining the link with the health structures afferent.

Diseases currently treatable at the CNAO within the National Health System, included in the LEA:

  • Orbital and periorbital tumours, including ocular melanoma
  • Tumours of the brainstem and spinal cord – Intracranial meningiomas in critical locations
  • Adenoid cystic carcinomas of the salivary glands
  • Chordomas and chondrosarcomas of the base of the skull and spine
  • Paediatric solid tumours
  • Tumours in patients with genetic syndromes
  • Sarcomas of soft tissues
  • Bone sarcomas
  • Retreatment of tumours in irradiated sites

Other diseases covered by clinical protocols:

  • Pancreatic cancer
  • High-risk prostate cancer
  • Recurrence of rectal cancer
  • Brain tumours
  • Sinus tumours

A preliminary medical evaluation is required to verify the indication for Hadrontherapy treatment. If the proposed clinical case is considered a candidate, the patient is contacted within a week for an initial evaluation visit at the Centre. The CNAO website shows how to send clinical documentation.

The mission of the CNAO Foundation is not only cure but also research for the benefit of the cancer patient: clinical, radiobiological, medical physics and bioengineering research. Clinical research includes innovative and comparative studies on the use of hadrons to improve the application of hadotherapy to new diseases in collaboration with national and international cancer centers. Radiobiology research, focusing on radiation resistance, the mechanisms of interactions between hadrons and drugs and the response of healthy tissues.

Medical physics research focuses on analyses to improve quality control procedures for particle beams and develop increasingly precise and high-performance tools for attacking tumours.  Bioengineering research aims to create innovative devices related to patient positioning and tumour treatment located in moving organs. The CNAO also operates through national and international collaborations of excellence in clinical and research fields.

The Associates

Consult the individual files of our Members

  • Founders
  • Ordinaries
  • Affiliates