The use of charged particles significantly reduces the dose absorbed by normal cells due to the inverse dose-depth deposition profile. This is the physical pillar justifying hadrontherapy as the eligible treatment for deepseated tumours. However, a non-negligible amount of radiation is nevertheless absorbed in correspondence with the plateau region of the Bragg curve, which may result in the induction of sub-lethal effects. Very little experimental data exist on the induction of such effects. Moreover, reliable follow-up data on such adverse effects in hadrontherapy patients are limited since this type of treatment has been adopted relatively recently. A fortiori, the dependence of sub-lethal effects on unprecedented factors, such as the exceedingly high dose rates and/or the pulsed nature of beams originated by laser interaction with target materials, is unknown. This warrants investigation prior to a therapeutic use of such beams.

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