Proton therapy has been used to treat patients since the mid-1950s, and has been an FDA-approved treatment since 1988. It is not experimental but its effectiveness in treating some types of cancers has not been fully explored as yet.
As one example, proton therapy’s use in treating breast cancer has been, until very recently, limited to one treatment facility in the U.S.—and focused solely on partial breast radiation for early stage breast cancers. Currently, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) radiation oncologists are breaking new ground in investigating the benefits of using protons in treating locally advanced breast cancers.
In contrast, many thousands of men with prostate cancer have been successfully treated with proton therapy during the past several decades. But with prostate cancer treatment as well, the question of whether protons are superior to other radiation therapy approaches like intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) is an area of ongoing research.
At SCCA, we are committed to addressing the need for definitive studies on proton therapy for a wide range of cancers. Our clinical studies hope to establish a clearer understanding of the benefits of this treatment—by helping doctors learn more about how effective proton therapy is in treating cancer when compared with other forms of radiation therapy, and when used in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy and surgery. We’re also excited about exploring the potential for improved outcomes for patients who receive the higher radiation doses made possible by this precise technology.