While there are a number of treatments available for various types of cancer, proton therapy has been demonstrating a level of positive results. Proton treatment is being used for brain, breast, head, neck, prostrate, and other forms of cancer.
What Is Proton Therapy?
If you aren’t familiar with proton therapy, it is a type of targeted radiation treatment for cancer. It is important to note that there are distinct differences between proton beam radiation and conventional radiation. The proton beam, for example, can be targeted at a very specific point. As a result, the radiation does not continue into the surrounding tissues and organs at the same rate as with conventional radiation therapies.
Treating Breast Cancer with Proton Therapy
With breast cancer treatment, It has been shown that there is an average of 50% less radiation that reaches and potentially causes damage to the lungs. Furthermore, it has also been shown that on average, no radiation is reaching the heart. Since the risk of radiation damage to healthy tissues is minimized with this targeted approach by up to 60%, it is a beneficial option.
Treating Prostate Cancer with Proton Therapy
When treating prostate cancer, patients have reported a reduced incidence of impotence with proton therapy. Studies show that 94% of the men reported that they were able to continue being sexually active following proton therapy. It has also been noted that this targeted approach has decreased the levels of radiation that reach gastrointestinal structures by a minimum of 59%.
Follow-up research was conducted on prostrate cancer patients 5 years following their proton therapy treatments. Given the various risk levels, the following percentages represent patients that showed no signs of cancer:
- Low-risk: 99%
- Intermediate-risk: 94%
- High-risk: 74%
A Typical Proton Therapy Session
In general, a person will begin receiving proton therapy 4 to 6 weeks after surgery or chemotherapy. These treatments are usually administered over a 6-week period.
Individual treatment sessions usually last between 15 to 45 minutes. The duration of time when the protons are actually being delivered to the tumor average from 1 to 2 minutes.
Proton Therapy Center Development and Treatment Data
This therapy was initially used in research settings during 1955. At that time, however, it was not commonly used due to existing imaging techniques that were unable to pinpoint tumors with sufficient accuracy. Due to advancements in imaging and other technologies, proton therapy is now being used at centers throughout Asia, Europe, and the United States.
On a global basis, over 67,000 individuals have received proton therapy for treating prostate cancer as well as other forms of cancer. In the United States alone, over 31,000 people have received these treatments.
During 2015 alone, over 30 particle therapy centers were under construction in the United States and other countries. These centers contained approximately 80 treatment rooms. A RNCOS report from the “US Proton Therapy Outlook 2017” indicated that there will be nearly 27 proton therapy centers available for cancer patients in the United States during this year.