Fighting cancerous growths has long since been a major field of research and medical practice within the medical community, with chemotherapy and X-Rays being the most common methods of attacking cancer. However, the side effects of these methods are considerable, so doctors and technicians have sought a new solution. Now, cancer treatment therapy has produced proton treatment, a new way to fight cancer with less risk.
What is Proton Therapy
This radical new form of treatment borrows from the older X-ray method, but this type of cancer treatment therapy uses new technology with newfound precision to fight back against growths. A machine known as a synchrotron performs this noninvasive therapy, and although expensive, it is effective. Its treatment is based not on x-rays, which can cause collateral damage as they exit the body after attacking cancer cells. Cancer.net, this machine will stimulate protons and creates high levels of energy, and these protons rush through a nozzle onto the patient’s flesh at extremely high speeds and precision, often based on sub-millimeter precision. Magnets will guide the beam to keep it tight and headed in the right direction, especially given that the beam may travel up to 67% of the speed of light. The patient must hold still so that the proton beam can focus on its target during the actual beam session, which lasts one or two minutes out of a 15-45 minute session. The procedure itself is harmless, although minor side-effects such as skin redness, rash, and peeling are possible afterwards. Traditional therapy can cause impotence in men, but 94% of men who had proton therapy reported no such problems. Compared to traditional radiation, a proton beam stops after it strikes the intended target, vastly reducing the risk of harming other tissues. Treatment with such a narrow beam is sometimes called “pencil beam proton therapy.”
This technology is recent, and buying and using a synchrotron is expensive. Cancer treatment therapy of this sort, however, has already found footholds in the medical industry. Over 30 particle treatment centers, with a total of 80 rooms, were being built in 2015 alone. And there is plenty of need; every year, 23,800 adults and 4,830 children are diagnosed with cancerous tumors in the brain and spinal cord, and proton therapy can address spinal cancer and non-cancerous tumors in the brain, along with lung cancer, liver cancer, and eye cancer, among others. Some cancer types, however, currently cannot be treated with this sort of cancer treatment therapy, so patients may need to consult their doctor first to determine what their best option is. Treating prostate cancer is also possible with this therapy, and prostate cancer can be a serious health risk if left untreated. This cancer treatment therapy method can fix that.
To determine if one needs this kind of cancer treatment therapy, it is essential to first get a Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan (MRI), or computed tomography (CT) scan, to locate and identify the cancerous growth, so the technicians and doctors know where to apply the beam on the patient. During the scanning process, devices help keep the patient snug and immobile, so the images will be precise and clear. X=rays are another option. These various scans are performed again before each treatment session with the proton beam, so doctors can stay current on the growth’s current size and location and not accidentally hit the harmless flesh nearby. The patient is also advised to remain still during the proton therapy, so the beam is not knocked off-target and directed over harmless flesh instead. As a whole, proton therapy for cancer is already proving itself a strong contender in the fight against this ongoing malady.