Even with modern medicine and technology, cancer still stands as one of the biggest challenges of the medical community today, and many different parts of the human body can develop cancerous growths or tumors, anything from bones to the pancreas to the brain or even sexual organs including the testicles and ovaries. A cancer treatment center today may offer standard treatment methods such as chemotherapy or full-body radiation to fight off cancer, but these blunt methods may not be appealing to some, and there are many well-known side effects. Recently, a new form of cancer therapy has emerged to stand as an alternative: proton beam radiation. A cancer treatment center might include a synchrotron, the machine that issues this form of non-invasive cancer treatment, and many patients may appreciate the relative lack of side effects and collateral damage that proton beam therapy will cause. While proton radiation therapy does not work on all cancer types, it may work on many, and a cancer patient may consult his/her doctor about getting this type of therapy at a cancer treatment center.

Proton Beam Basics

Why is this form of proton treatment desirable? A synchrotron will create not full-body radiation for a patient, but rather, it will excite protons with electricity and then issue them in a narrow, tightly controlled beam that will destroy cancer cells upon contact, no surgery required. This means that the radiation will affect the cancerous growth only, and very little radiation will affect the healthy tissue around or behind the growth being targeted. For example, women using proton therapy for breast cancer may expect to have their heart and lungs exposed to only half the radiation that they would be with regular radiation therapy. Men with prostate cancer may have proton beam therapy done, and this method has already demonstrated itself to be a safe method of prostate cancer treatment. In particular, researchers found that prostate cancer patients with low, intermediate, or high risk prostate cancer had no signs of cancer in a follow-up in 99%, 94%, and 74% of cases, respective for each severity, showing that proton beam therapy can effectively destroy a cancerous growth and make sure that it stays gone. Most men who visited a cancer treatment center and got proton beam therapy report no issues with their sexual health afterwards.

Visiting the Cancer Treatment Center

A cancer patient whose types of cancer can be treated with proton beam therapy may opt for this form of therapy, and if they do, they can expect to visit the clinic for several different sessions until the cancerous growth or tumor is destroyed without a trace remaining. During each visit, the patient will first have his or her X-rays taken so that the doctors can see the location, size, and shape of the cancerous growth so they know where to aim the proton beam. Next, the patient is taken to the treatment room where the synchrotron is, and that patient will either lay down on a table or sit upright in a chair, depending on the cancer’s location, and the doctors will adjourn to a nearby room where they can control the synchrotron and speak to the patient with intercoms. Now, the doctors will control the synchrotron and keep its beam trained on the cancerous growth, destroying it upon contract, and they will be careful to not apply the beam to unaffected flesh surrounding the growth. After a number of sessions, the cancerous growth will be destroyed completely, and the patient will have a follow-up as the doctors order.

Today, while relatively few cancer treatment centers exist that specialize in proton radiation therapy, this is already a popular method for treating cancer, and more facilities that offer this type of therapy are being constructed. At the beginning of 2015, for example, more than 30 such centers were under construction, and among them, they had a total of 80 rooms for therapy treatment. These sites can be found around the world for cancer patients, and as this technology becomes more common and prices go down, it may be easier for cancer patients today to get proton radiation therapy done to save a life.