Proton therapy for lung cancer
Every tumor of the lung presents its own unique set of treatment challenges, requiring a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation that’s right for you. Conventional radiation treatments, while effective, expose surrounding healthy tissue such as the heart and esophagus to excess radiation, which can lead to an increased risk of major coronary events later in life. A recent study showed that any radiation exposure to the heart was a strong predictor of mortality.
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With conventional X-ray therapy, radiation is at its highest as it enters the body, and delivers an exit dose as it continues on past the tumor.
Until recently, the risk of these side effects were accepted as necessary to appropriately treat the cancer. Thanks to more widespread availability of proton therapy, these risks can be mitigated. With proton therapy, treatment is delivered precisely to the tumor, so less radiation is delivered to the surrounding healthy tissue.
Proton therapy takes advantage of a unique characteristic of protons—they deliver their maximum dose of radiation, known as the Bragg Peak, right before they come to a stop. There is no exit dose. That’s how the damage is concentrated on the cancer, protecting healthy tissue.
If you’ve been diagnosed with lung cancer, the radiation oncology specialists at SCCA Proton Therapy Center are available to give a second opinion and determine if proton therapy is right for you.
Proton therapy facts
- Radiation exposure to the heart increases the likelihood of heart complications later in life by 7.4 percent per gray (a measurement unit of radiation).
- A recent study showed that any radiation exposure to the heart was a strong predictor of mortality.
- Proton therapy reduces the radiation exposure to surrounding tissue and organs.
- Pencil-beam scanning allows treatment to conform the size, shape and depth of your lung cancer tumor, “painting” on radiation, accurate within millimeters.
- Proton therapy is often the only radiation treatment available if you’ve already received radiation from a previous cancer occurrence.
- As of 2022, more than 200,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at centers in Europe, Asia and the United States.