Proton Therapy for Gastrointestinal Cancers
Proton therapy is an advanced treatment option that precisely delivers radiation to the size, shape and depth of your tumor. This approach allows your doctor to radiate the cancer while limiting damage to the surrounding tissue. For this reason, proton therapy is particularly good for treating tumors near healthy organs, including gastrointestinal tumors.
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Gastrointestinal Tract Tumors Most Appropriate for Proton Therapy:
- Pancreas and bile duct
- Liver and liver metastases
- Anal canal
- Select recurrent and metastatic cancer
Gastrointestinal (GI) tumors can occur anywhere along the GI tract. Treatment for GI tract tumors often requires a combination of radiation therapy and either chemotherapy or surgery. The combination of these therapies can be difficult for patients to tolerate. In some cases, standard radiation isn’t a viable treatment option for patients because it would cause too much damage to healthy tissues and organs near the tumor. For these patients, proton therapy can be an effective treatment option because protons deposit more energy directly to the tumor and significantly reduce the radiation dose to healthy tissues. Patients treated with proton therapy for GI tract tumors often experience fewer side effects.
Fred Hutch physicians, Drs. Jing Zeng and Smith Apisarnthanarax have conducted a study on protons and esophageal cancers. The aim of this study was to present the dosimetry, feasibility, and preliminary clinical results of a novel pencil beam scanning (PBS) posterior beam technique of proton treatment for esophageal cancer in the setting of trimodality therapy.
Active Breathing Coordinator
Tumors such as abdominal cancers tend to move when the patient breathes. To better control tumor movement and enable cancer patients to best benefit from proton therapy, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center - Proton Therapy is a pioneer in using an advanced breath-holding device for proton therapy that aids patients in their ability to control breathing during radiation treatment. The Active Breathing Coordinator (ABC) device assists patients with systematically holding their breath before or after they have breathed out. During this brief time, the ABC makes the tumor a stationary target for the proton beam.
Proton Therapy Facts
- Pencil-beam scanning allows treatment to conform the size, shape and depth of your specific tumor, accurate within millimeters.
- Proton therapy reduces the radiation exposure to surrounding tissue and organs.
- Proton therapy is often the only radiation treatment available if you’ve already received radiation from a previous cancer occurrence.
- Treatments are safe, noninvasive and painless for most patients, helping speed recovery and maintain lifestyle.
- As of 2022, more than 200,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at centers in Europe, Asia and the United States.