Proton radiation therapy is a new type of cancer treatment that has a number of advantages over older therapies like radiation therapy and chemotherapy. By focusing the radiation only on the affected areas, it reduces side effects and speeds up recovery. It has been used successfully to treat different types of cancer, including for breast cancer treatment.
What is proton therapy?
Proton therapy uses a highly focused beam of radiation to treat the affected area. Because the radiation is focused, it does very little damage to the surrounding tissues and organs, unlike older types of radiation therapy. This means fewer to no side effects and a quicker recovery.
For example, when it is used for breast cancer treatment, sensitive organs like the lungs receive 50% less radiation than in traditional treatments and the heart receives no radiation at all. Proton therapy reduces the radiation received by the gastrointestinal organs by 56% as compared to the older X-rays that were used in radiation treatments.
How effective is proton cancer treatment?
Proton radiation therapy has been successful in treating several types of cancers including breast cancer treatments. It has also been used to treat prostate cancer with very limited recurrence. When used to treat low risk prostate cancer patients, 99% show no signs of recurrence five years after the treatment. For intermediate risk patents, 94% show no signs of recurrence five years after treatments, and among high risk patients, 74% have no signs of recurrence.
Proton treatment is also suitable for the treatment of childhood cancers, because of the lack of side effects. Among advanced cancer treatment options, proton therapy is becoming widely used around the world.
How the treatment works
More and more proton cancer treatment centers are being opened around the world and a large majority of these are in the U.S. Millions of people have already received proton cancer treatments. Treatment lasts for four to six weeks. Each session takes between 15 to 45 minutes. The actual time when the proton beam is used is just one or two minutes.
Because there are no side effects, the treatment is not debilitating like conventional radiation therapy or chemotherapy. Patients can use their free time to go sightseeing or even in hiking and other outdoor pursuits.
Proton therapy has been used successfully to treat a range of cancers including for breast cancer treatment. There are no side effects, which makes it especially suitable for the treatment of childhood cancers.