What Proton Therapy is Capable Of

Cancer still stands as one of the major health threats of the 21st century, and there is no formal “cure” for it, nor a preventative measure. However, throughout the 20th century, advanced cancer treatment options were developed, and cancer treatment therapy often involved the likes of chemotherapy or full-body radiation. Today, however, a form of non-invasive cancer treatment has been developed and is proving effective so far: proton beam radiation. This new form of non-invasive cancer treatment is known for only affecting the cancerous growth’s area and having a minimal impact on the rest of the body. In short, proton radiation therapy has very little collateral damage, and this may may it among the safest and most precise of all cancer treatment methods. A diagnose cancer patient may opt for this sort of non-invasive cancer treatment, and if they do, they may expect a simple but effective procedure.

On Cancer and Proton Beams

What does this form of non-invasive cancer treatment entail? A machine called a synchrotron will electrically excite, or stimulate, a series of protons and then issue them from a nozzle in a narrow and tightly controlled beam. This beam will then focus its energy on the intended target, a tumor or cancer cells, and destroy them upon contact over the course of several sessions. Not only does this form of non-invasive cancer treatment destroy the cancer cells, but it has little effect on the rest of the body, and studies have shown how comparatively little collateral damage one may expect compared to other cancer treatments. For example, women who have proton beam therapy done for breast cancer will have only half the radiation exposed to their lungs as they may expect from traditional full body radiation treatment. Their heart, meanwhile, will experience no radiation at all.

Many men develop prostate cancer, but this form of cancer may also be treated with proton beam therapy and studies show how effective it is. Over 90% of men who underwent this process reported no issues with their sexual health afterwards. What is more, researches reported that 99%, 94%, and 74% of men with low, moderate, or high risk prostate cancer reported no signs of cancer recurrence five years after they had proton beam radiation done on them to destroy the cancerous growths. As of now, not all forms of cancer can be treated with this non-invasive cancer treatment, but many can, and a diagnosed cancer patient may be offered this particular treatment method by their doctor.

Treatment Sessions

Once a patient has been diagnosed with a form of cancer that may be treated with proton beam radiation, their doctor may refer them to a cancer treatment center that offers this service. What might happen in typical sessions for proton beam radiation? To start with, the patient will have their X-rays taken to show where the cancerous growth or tumor is, along with its shape and size. This allows the doctors there to know where to use the proton beam and where not to. That is, they will clearly see the target area.

Now, the patient will be led into a treatment room that has the synchrotron in it, and the patient will either sit or lay down on a table, based on the cancer’s location in their body. The doctors will now adjourn to a nearby room, where they can remotely control the synchrotron. They can also use an intercom to talk with the patient if need be, and they will advise the patient to hold still during the procedure. Once everything is ready, the beam will activate, and the doctors will guide the synchrotron’s beam across the patient’s body in the affected area to destroy the cancer cells. This precise beam will cause very little, if any, damage to surrounding cells or tissues due to its focused energy. This beam will be used for only a minute or two.

The entire process from start to finish takes around 45 minutes, and a patient may go in for several sessions until their cancerous growth has been totally destroyed. The patient may go in for follow-ups, and based on proton beam therapy’s performance so far, the risks of recurring cancer may be fairly low. This may vary case to case, though.

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May 2024
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