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Proton Therapy for Diverse Tumor Sites

Paul Ossi, M.D.

January 31, 2017

The use of proton beam therapy is expanding to include a diverse range of tumor sites, thanks to emerging research revealing the effectiveness of this advanced radiation treatment modality.

Proton beam therapy is a well-established cancer treatment that has produced successful results for almost three decades. Although originally used in the treatment of prostate, brain, and pediatric tumors, we are seeing more and more types of tumors being treated with proton therapy. This is due to its ability to precisely deliver large amounts of cancer-fighting radiation directly to tumor sites while producing minimal side effects and reducing exposure to surrounding organs.

Unlike standard external-beam radiation that is carried by x-ray beams, proton therapy relies on positively charged particles called protons, which can be directed to the tumor with pinpoint precision.  Since the bulk of the energy load is deposited at the treatment site, damage to adjacent tissues and organs is significantly reduced.

Researchers are currently studying proton therapy as a potential treatment for anal cancer, a notoriously difficult to treat malignancy. Currently, the majority of anal cancers receive a radiation/chemotherapy combination. As many as 75 percent of patients who undergo chemoradiaton for anal cancer experience some type of urinary, bowel and/or skin issues, many of which are severe. The precision of proton therapy is expected to spare the healthy tissue near the tumor site and greatly diminish the collateral damage that leads to long-term complications.

We are also seeing proton therapy being used on late-stage pancreatic cancer, lung cancers, sarcomas, and other challenging tumors. I am encouraged by the positive results that continue to emerge from these ongoing studies, and I believe proton therapy has the potential to improve outcomes and quality of life for many of these patients.

At Ackerman Cancer Center, we have long recognized the unique benefits of proton therapy and are proud to be the world’s first private treatment site to offer its own proton beam technology. If you have questions regarding proton therapy, please call us at 904-880-5522.

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