Proton Therapy The New Approach To Treating Cancer

Breast cancer care

A cancer diagnosis is always devastating, no matter how promising the prognosis. The fact is that even when cancer treatment is successful, it can often have negative side effects that range from temporary to permanent. No matter what, a patient’s life is changed when they’re diagnosed with cancer, but the fact is that some treatments have greater negative effects than others. No matter what, it’s important that a patient talks to their doctor about the best treatment route for them, whether they’re looking for breast cancer treatment or for treatment options for prostate cancer. In some cases, the most radical treatment is unavoidable. But there are options available for those who don’t want to deal with negative side effects for the rest of their lives — if they’re the right candidates for such treatment, that is. This is called proton treatment or proton therapy. It’s an alternative to traditional radiation treatment for cancer, and can be used as breast cancer treatment, as well as treatment for prostate cancer and a variety of other types of cancers. Proton therapy for cancer isn’t the right treatment option for everyone, but it should be explored. If you’re a candidate, it could change your life for the better — and perhaps even help save your life. Below, we’ll look into what sets this type of treatment apart from others, and why it may be an option for you or a loved one.

What Is Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy is not some experimental treatment — it has been widely used as breast cancer treatment, and as a treatment for other types of diseases. In Europe, Asia, and the United States more than 67,000 people have received proton therapy. As a matter of fact, proton therapy has been used since 1955 — the difference between now and then is that, back in the 1950s, imaging techniques could not accurately pinpoint the location of tumors. Therefore, the results were not as strong as they are now. Proton therapy usage will only expand as time passes; at the beginning of 2015, over 30 particle centers, with 80 treatment rooms, were being constructed worldwide. Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy, but it’s much more accurate than what was used in the past. It stops at a specific point in the targeted tissue, which means that there’s less of a chance of the radiation negatively affecting healthy parts of the body. In terms of breast cancer treatment, for example, this would mean that there would be no radiation to the heart and 50% less radiation to the lung than there would be with traditional radiation treatment.

What Are The Advantages Of Proton Therapy?

Radiation has typically been seen as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it’s an effective treatment for many types of cancers. On the other, it can permanently damage non-cancerous parts of the body as well. When it comes to prostate cancer cases, for example, radiation therapy can often leave patients with sexual dysfunction issues. Proton therapy dramatically reduces this risk thanks to its more targeted approach. Recent research has indicated that 99%, 94%, and 74% of men treated with proton therapy in low, intermediate, and high risk prostate cancer have no signs of cancer after five years of follow-up. This means that the treatment works, which is of course the main goal. But furthermore, 94% of men treated for prostate cancer with proton therapy have reported being sexually active following treatment. This ensures a higher quality of life after treatment.

When Does Proton Therapy Begin?

Treatments for cancer, even in aggressive cases, often have to be staggered to a certain extent to ensure that the patient can handle them. Therefore, proton therapy usually begins four to six weeks following chemotherapy or surgery, and lasts about six weeks. Usually, a treatment session lasts about 15 to 45 minutes — but the actual time spent delivering protons to the tumor is only a minute or two. Therefore, the treatment is minimally invasive, with the maximum chance of success.

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