Radiation treatment for cancer has been used since approximately 1899, according to cancer.org. Toward the end of the 20th century, advances were made in cancer treatment therapy that enable us to more accurately aim the radiation. Proton therapy is the result. As explained by the Mayo Clinic, proton treatment is a form of radiation therapy in which beams of high energy generated by protons (particles having a positive charge) are used. Proton treatment has demonstrated promising results in the treatment of several different types of cancer, such as head and neck cancer, breast cancer, and prostate cancer. These are some of the benefits that have been noted.
1. Less Exposure to Radiation.
In traditional radiation treatments, the radiation extends past the tumor being targeted. On the other hand, proton treatments offer radiation that ceases at a very precise point within the tissue being targeted. When used as a treatment for breast cancer, there is zero radiation involving the heart on average, and an average of 50% less radiation to the lungs in comparison to typical radiation. In addition, proton treatment delivers a 59% lower dose of radiation to gastrointestinal organs than X-rays do. Studies also show that because of proton therapy’s ability to precisely target affected areas, patients undergoing this form of treatment for prostate cancer experience a substantially lower risk of impotence, and 94% of men state that they’ve continued to be sexually active following their therapy.
Research finds that the percentage of men treated with proton therapy for prostate cancer who showed no indication of recurrence after five-year follow-ups were as follows: 99% (for men with low-risk prostate cancer), 94% (for men with intermediate-risk prostate cancer), and 74% (for men with high-risk prostate cancer).
Loma Linda University considers proton therapy to be a preferable option for treating cancer because it is pain-free, it isn’t an invasive treatment, and it has minimal side effects. Patients are generally able to resume their everyday schedule following a treatment. Therapy appointments usually last between 15 and 45 minutes, but the amount of time that is actually spent administering the proton beam to the site of the tumor is roughly one to two minutes.
When considering different types of cancer treatment therapy, proton treatment has demonstrated encouraging results and benefits. As of 2015, over 30 proton treatment centers, with a combined total of approximately 80 rooms for treatment, were being constructed across the world.