Cancers Treated with Proton Therapy
What makes a proton therapy the right form of radiation treatment for a particular cancer will include a host of factors unique to each patient. Every tumor, in terms of its shape, size, location, and biological behavior is different. In the sections below, we’ll present information on several types of cancer that have been treated successfully with proton therapy.
As a patient at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA), you’ll work with a team of experts who will discuss all of your treatment options with you. Together, your team will recommend the treatment approach that will give you the best odds of surviving cancer—and returning to full health and a normal life.
SCCA medical oncologists and radiation oncologists are excited to have the opportunity to utilize proton therapy in treating prostate cancer. Research studies have demonstrated the efficacy of proton therapy, its relative safety even when higher doses are utilized—along with a low incidence of incontinence and bowel dysfunction for men undergoing this treatment.
Children are on a fast track in terms of their growth and development, and that growth makes them especially vulnerable to side effects from radiation treatment. Proton therapy is particularly well suited to many pediatric tumors because it can precisely target tumors near or within sensitive organs while minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue.
Treatment for brain tumors often encompasses a combination of therapies, including x-ray and/or proton radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy. As with all radiation therapies, proton therapy is generally used after surgery has been performed, to destroy any remaining cancer cells.
SCCA radiation oncologists are breaking new ground in investigating the benefits of using protons in treating locally advanced breast cancers. The advantage with protons in treating these cancers is that it can enable radiation oncologists to deliver adequately high radiation doses to cancer targets such as the chest wall and lymph nodes—while sparing surrounding healthy organs.
The advantage with protons in treating head and neck cancers is that radiation oncologists can deliver high radiation doses to the cancer target while sparing sensitive structures. As a result, proton therapy may reduce the likelihood of side effects from radiation treatment, which can include blindness, hearing deterioration, and dry mouth.
Proton therapy offers patients with GI tumors the possibility of limiting the radiation exposure to nearby healthy organs—and limiting side effects.
In treating lung cancer, radiation therapy can potentially impact many critical structures in a sensitive area of the body, including the heart and spinal cord. Conventional radiation therapy can pose challenges in terms of delivering an effective dose without risking damage to healthy tissue. In this circumstance, proton therapy may be the therapy of choice to protect these vulnerable areas.
At SCCA, we are committed to addressing the need for definitive studies on proton therapy for a wide range of cancers.