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Is Proton Therapy Right for Your Cancer?

Scot Ackerman , M.D.

October 28, 2021

Is Proton Therapy Right for Your Cancer?

While many people are familiar with Radiation Therapy as a treatment for cancer, not all are aware of Proton Therapy as an additional advanced option. Dr. Scot Ackerman joined WJXT this morning to discuss the pro’s of Proton Therapy, and who may benefit from this treatment.

What is Proton Therapy and how does it work?

Proton Therapy is the most precise form of radiation that uses energy particles to destroy cancerous cells, while protecting healthy tissue. A beam of proton particles delivers a powerful dose of radiation to the precise site of the tumor, allowing a significant reduction in damage to healthy organs and surrounding tissue. This deposition of radiation energy in the tumor is known as the Bragg Peak. Since virtually all of the proton’s energy is focused on the tumor, and no radiation travels beyond the Bragg Peak, there is a tremendous reduction of radiation exposure and damage to adjacent tissues and organs. Proton Therapy can be used alone in cancer treatment, and may also be used in combination with additional treatment options such as surgery and/or chemotherapy.

Advantages of Proton Therapy

  • Significantly less radiation exposure to healthy tissues and organs
  • Tumor can receive a higher dose of radiation, resulting in better tumor control
  • Reduced risk of cancer recurrence
  • Fewer side effects and complications
  • Lower risk of radiation-induced second malignancies
  • Quick timeline to treatment
  • Brighter quality of life during and after treatment
  • Painless and non-invasive

Cancers Treated with Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is a proven treatment option for a wide range of cancers and is particularly effective for treating irregularly shaped tumors, hard-to-reach tumors, tumors near vital organs and critical structures, and localized tumors that have not spread to other areas. Proton therapy is most commonly used in treating the following cancers:

  • Prostate cancer- Maintains sexual function and urinary continence, as well as reduces the risk of Gastrointestinal side effects
  • Lung cancer- Spares heart, esophagus, and spinal cord from radiation, as well as healthy lung tissue
  • Breast cancer- Spares the contralateral breast, lungs, and heart from radiation
    • Reduces risk of future heart disease, heart attack, and chronic pulmonary disease, especially for left-sided breast cancer

How do I know if Proton Therapy is right for me?

Speak with your healthcare provider to see if this treatment is right for you. Factors to consider include:

    • If a solid tumor has been identified
    • If the cancer is new or recurring
    • If the cancer is located near a sensitive or hard to reach area
    • If the patient plans on seeking additional treatments

Image- Proton Therapy (Left) vs Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (right)

To view the full interview with Dr. Scot Ackerman and WJXT, click here

To learn more about Proton Therapy and if it is right for you, click here

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