Proton Therapy for CancerAnother Step Toward a Cure?

Proton Therapy for CancerAnother Step Toward a Cure?

Health and Fitness March 23, 2017

Proton radiation therapy

With ever changing technological advances in the medical field, new ways of treating prostate cancer are being tested all the time. A newer, innovative course of treatment that has shown to be quite successful is proton therapy. It is usually begun within about four to six weeks after chemo or surgery is done, and lasts for a period of six weeks.

Proton therapy for treating prostate cancer is done by dispatching proton particles to a targeted spot to eradicate any tissue that is cancerous. Proton particles are focused on the affected cells and are so precisely administered that they cause no damage at all to any healthy tissue that surrounds the prostate. Protons are used in the place of using X-rays and, in high energy, are capable of eliminating cancer cells. In addition to its success in treating prostate cancer, proton treatment is now being used successfully for several different types of cancer; for instance, it is used as treatment for breast cancer, lung cancer, and some pediatric cancers. Since its inception, proton therapy has been used to treat approximately 31,000 cancer patients in the United States, making the global total of people treated with proton therapy for cancer 64,000.

There have found to be several benefits for patients who have received proton therapy for prostate cancer. One difference between this kind of treatment and other cancer treatments is that proton therapy used for treating prostate cancer focuses totally on the tumor itself. Because it does not spread radiation into the surrounding tissues, which would adversely affect the bladder, there is a lot less possibility of the patient experiencing incontinence.

Another advantage is that proton therapy causes very little, if any, gastrointestinal side effects. There are many treatment options for men diagnosed with prostate cancer, most of which will cause discomfort or pain to the gastrointestinal tract. Again, when using proton therapy for treating prostate cancer, only the tumor is zeroed in on, without affecting surrounding tissue. This treatment only takes about 15-45 minutes each time it is administered; however, the time used to concentrate on sending protons directly to the tumor is just a couple of minutes. There is virtually no recovery needed, and no downward spiral of the patient’s energy level. As soon as each treatment is finished, the patient can go right back to “business as usual”.

Proton therapy used for breast cancer treatment can be very successful during the cancer’s early stages. In addition to this being a draw, the advantages of this treatment already discussed also hold true for breast cancer patients. The benefits are universal. Another pro not listed earlier is the fact that proton therapy causes less cosmetic damage. Radiation, for instance, will cause burn marks on the skin. This treatment is virtually painless and is done as an outpatient procedure.

Although using proton therapy is still new, its benefits to cancer patients have already attracted a lot of attention. New proton treatment centers are in the works and the number planned is ever-growing. In 2015 alone 30 of these centers were in the process of being built throughout the world.

Small cell lung cancer in its early stages has been effectively treated with proton therapy. Larger doses of proton particles are safely administered in a shorter time frame. The whole treatment, beginning to end, will typically take two weeks, instead of six to eight weeks, with no increase in side effects at all.

There has been effective proton therapy used to treat certain cancers in children, as well. Doctors have found success when using proton particles to target brain tumors in children. Because the areas around the tumor are untouched by proton rays, other areas in the head are protected; for instance, depending upon the location of the tumor within the brain, other essential areas like the inner ear will be unaffected by the treatment. There have been a number of specific tumors in children that have been treated with success by proton therapy. Tumors at the base of the skull and the spine have been safely disintegrated, as have tumors in and around the eye.

Because every patient and every case are individual, the best therapy and plan for action will be individual as well.