Proton Radiation Therapy
Might Be the Best Treatment for Prostate and Lung Cancer

What is proton radiation therapy? It is a form of treatment that also uses high energy rays. It was during the 1950s that proton beam radiation therapy was first explored as a treatment for different types of cancer. But it is only during the last 5 years that it has become more popular. It is now being considered as possibly one of the best among the latest treatments for prostate cancer. It is also believed to be a better alternative than conventional radiotherapy in treating lung cancer.

Related Article: Treatments for Lung Cancer: What to Consider

How is proton therapy different? It's how energy rays are delivered to the tumor that sets it apart. In proton beam radiation therapy, the energy rays are administered through a laser-like beam.

What are the advantages of proton beam radiation therapy over standard radiotherapy?

1. Proton therapy is more effective for tumors that develop deep inside your body.

Tumors that develop near the surface of the body require lesser energy rays while tumors located deep inside the body need higher energy rays. Standard radiation therapy is a less effective treatment for deeper tumors because your doctor can't increase the amount of energy without harming your normal cells, tissues and organs.

This is exactly why proton radiation is so much better. Proton beam therapy allows adjustment of energy.

2. The manner of delivery of energy rays is far superior.

The use of a beam leads to more precise targeting of the diseased cells. The amount and effectiveness of the energy rays that are administered to the tumor are also maximized because they are able to take the form and contours of the tumor.

In standard radiation therapy, the dosage is often below what's necessary to kill the tumor to avoid harming the surrounding healthy cells, tissues and organs. Thus, the standard type of treatment takes longer and is not as effective as proton beam radiation in killing and preventing the cancer from spreading.

In proton beam therapy, the amount of radiation is exactly what is needed to destroy the tumor and because it is delivered in a beam, it is centered only on the tumor. Damage to the nearby normal cells, tissues and organs is averted.

Is proton radiation therapy suitable for ALL cancers?

Proton beam therapy is already being used to treat cancer in the . . .

  • brain,
  • lungs,
  • prostate,
  • liver and
  • lymphoma.
However, proton therapy is not effective as treatment for systemic cancers such as leukemia and for metastatic cancers. Since it is given through a beam, it is a highly recommended therapy for solid tumors which are localized and still in an early stage. But it can be prescribed to relieve symptoms caused by late stage cancers.

It is a form of therapy now often prescribed for early prostate cancer and it has a high success rate. So it can be said that right now, it is the best treatment for prostate cancer in its early stage.

As for liver cancer, proton radiation treatment still can't cure it yet even when the tumor is at early stage. Surgery is still the best type of treatment but proton beam radiation therapy is helpful in decreasing the size of the tumor and in alleviating the pain.

Proton beam radiation therapy is especially beneficial for mantle cell lymphoma which is a type of lymphoma that is resistant to chemotherapy. This is great news because it is an aggressive and high grade B cell lymphoma, which needs treatment fast.

Proton beam radiation therapy is also a safer alternative type of treatment for childhood cancers. Remember that a child's cells, tissues and organs are still developing and more vulnerable to radiation and chemo medicines. Prescribing this new method of administering energy rays can help avoid the onset of a secondary tumor.

Reference: MD Anderson Cancer Center

What are the benefits of proton beam radiation therapy?

Treatment using conventional radiation therapy leads to undesirable side effects such as headaches and nausea. My Dad had radiation when he was still alive and the side effects were so terrible that he declined treatment after a few sessions.

Side effects of proton beam radiation are either minimal or none at all. Some patients might experience side effects while being treated. But these will pass away after the therapy is done as proton beam energy rays have a very short life span inside your body, The patient is able to recover quick and just like the conventional radiation therapy, proton beam radiation can be given in an outpatient set-up.

So far, the major setback of proton beam radiation therapy is its cost. The machine used to administer the energy rays is expensive and only a handful cancer centers such as MD Anderson Cancer Care are offering it. Proton radiation as treatment is also available only in first world countries as of the moment.

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