Less radiation means fewer short- and long-term side effects and lower risk for serious problems that may result from treatment. Studies show that proton therapy may help protect children from development problems, growth delays, lower IQ, cancer forming in other parts of their body and other health problems, compared to standard X-ray radiation.
Medulloblastoma is a common childhood cancer that usually starts in the lower part of the brain in the back of the skull. It often spreads to other parts of the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Proton therapy can be a good treatment option because it sends less radiation to the heart, lungs and abdomen compared to standard radiation therapy. Less radiation to these vital organs lowers the chance that your child will have health problems years later.
Standard X-ray radiation therapy for childhood brain cancer can have serious side effects. For example, if radiation hits a part of the brain called the hypothalamus, it might affect chemicals (neurohormones) that are made there. This can affect your child’s levels of growth and thyroid hormones — and how well they grow and develop in the future. The goal with proton radiation therapy is to lower the risk that radiation will harm healthy parts of your child’s brain.
Medulloblastomas tend to spread through the cerebrospinal fluid to the spinal cord or to other parts of the brain. They may also spread to other parts of the body, but this is rare. Medulloblastomas are most common in children and young adults. They are a type of central nervous system embryonal tumor.