What You Need to Know About Proton Therapy Treatment
Many people around the world are suffering from cancer. According to a report, about 1.8 million people in the US alone will be diagnosed with cancer in 2020. Among these individuals, an estimate of about 600, 000 will succumb from this illness. This is one of the reasons why researchers are working hard to find a cure.
As of today, there is still no known cure for cancer.
However, experts believe that proton therapy is able to alleviate the symptoms of some types of cancer.
What Is Proton Therapy Treatment?
Sometimes called proton beam therapy, this treatment is a type of radiation that is used for cancer. It uses tiny particles called protons to send beams of high energy to destroy cancer cells while sparing healthy tissues. Doctors may use proton therapy alone, but it may also be performed along with other treatments like surgery, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and traditional radiation.
How Does Proton Therapy Works?
One of the reasons why many prefer proton therapy is because unlike other radiation treatment, it doesn’t use X-rays. In traditional radiation therapy, X-rays can damage the healthy tissues while entering and exiting the cancer cells.
With proton therapy, after delivering the beam of energy to the exact spot they’re needed, the protons stop. They don’t exit the tumor nor damage nearby healthy tissues especially in sensitive areas like spinal cord, brain, eyes, and nerves.
What Types of Cancers Does Proton Therapy Treat?
This treatment is commonly used for tumors, especially those that haven’t spread and are found in areas like near the brain, eyes, and spinal cord. However, scientists and medical practitioners are still looking for new ways to use this therapy. As of today, it is used for cancers like pancreatic, prostate, liver, breast, lung, and many more.
What Side Effects Does Proton Therapy Treatment Have?
In many cases, people are able to get back to their normal day after a session. These individuals may feel extra tired, which is common for radiation treatments. Compared to traditional radiation therapies, proton therapy limits the risk of negative side effects, which may include headaches, digestive issues, loss of appetite, and hair loss around the treatment spot.
How Does the Process of Proton Therapy Treatment Work?
After consulting with a radiation oncologist, patients will normally take part in a simulation. Through this, the medical practitioner can gather information about the exact location, size, and shape of the tumor. With the collected data, the doctor can then create a customized mold and other devices to position the patient during the treatment.
How Long Is a Proton Therapy Session?
On average, the actual time it takes to deliver the beam of energy to the target spot is only one to three minutes. The session, however, may last from 15 to 45 minutes. Most of the time is spent in positioning the patient and adjusting the equipment for proper treatment.
How Many Sessions Does It Take to Cure a Cancer?
Depending on the type of cancer, sessions can last between four to eight weeks, for five days a week. For example, the treatment for prostate cancer is normally performed five days a week for eight weeks. However, some patients may also be eligible for clinical trial that can be completed in five and a half weeks.
Can Proton Therapy Treatment Work on Children With Cancers?
This treatment is especially effective in children. Since the therapy has the ability to target the tumors accurately and spare vital organs and surrounding healthy tissues, children can tolerate and respond to the treatment better.
In addition, proton therapy is ideal for children with cancer because it doesn’t cause growth abnormalities and reductions in IQ. It also reduces the risk of tumor development, side effects, and other complications as they grow.
Is It Approved By the FDA?
Aside from asking, “What is proton therapy treatment?”, many people are also curious if this treatment is FDA approved. In the US, research and clinical trials have been done since the 1950’s but not until 1990 has it been used in a hospital setting. Finally, in 2001, the use of proton therapy to treat patients with cancer has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.