Medical advances are just getting better and better.
Just a century and a half ago vaccinations were just starting to be used to stave off serious disease. Nowadays you can find them at your local pharmacy or grocery store to keep yourself protected. From over-the-counter painkillers to accessible mental health resources, it’s truly incredible how far society has come in regards to understanding how the human body works. Cancer remains among the most difficult mountains to climb, able to emerge almost anywhere in the body and resist numerous forms of treatment. The proton treatment method might just change this.
Designed to reduce side-effects and increase life expectancy, proton treatment methods are giving both doctors and patients something new to sing about.
Statistics are updated on a rolling basis to help us better put things in perspective. Cancer is a difficult medical condition to get under control for multiple reasons, due in no small part to a lack of general knowledge about where it comes from and how to stave it off. Breast cancer is one of the most common forms of cancer today, with statistics estimating one out of seven women will be diagnosed in her lifetime. A family history of the disease can also increase the likelihood of a tumor, though it’s not the only factor by far.
Prostate cancer, brain cancer, and lung cancer follow close behind. Environmental exposure is slowly becoming better understood as a significant catalyst to increasing people’s risk. Skin cancer, for example, is gained by constant exposure to harmful UVA and UVB rays. The prevalence of tanning beds in popular culture and general lack of knowledge about safe habits only makes this worse. According to the CDC, over 35% of men today can be categorized as obese and nearly 20% of men over the age of 18 have had five or more drinks in one day.
Advanced cancer treatment options should target the tumor as well as stave off the possibility of side-effects. Proton therapy’s targeted approach has resulted in impressive outcomes for patients in various degrees of treatment. Studies have found prostate cancer patients using this method have a significantly reduced risk of impotence, with nearly 95% of men reporting they remain sexually active after treatment. Additional research has found nearly 100%, 90% and 75% of men treated with proton therapy at the low, intermediate, and high-risk levels, respectively, showing no recurrence after five years.
Proton therapy uses a specific and specialized type of radiation to stop at a very specific point in the target tissue. Compare this to conventional radiation, which tends to continue well beyond the tumor and cause side-effects that can range from short-term to permanent. Breast cancer, for example, benefits from proton therapy by reducing the amount of radiation to the heart to nearly zero. This is alongside radiation to the lungs, which can be lowered by at least 50%. While there is still no cure, it very well could be right around the corner with proton treatment.
Today proton beam treatment is starting to become more widespread. The beginning of 2015 saw more than 30 particle therapy centers being constructed around the world, totaling 100 treatment rooms. A single treatment session takes just 15 to 45 minutes, with most of that time just spent prepping equipment. Proton therapy might very well replace conventional prostate cancer options and provide breast cancer survivors an even longer lifespan. The best chance at beating cancer, however, comes with a proactive attitude.
Early prevention methods, non-invasive cancer treatment, and proton treatment for breast cancer. The future is looking bright for medical advances, indeed.