Cancer, unfortunately, affects almost everyone in some shape or form. Luckily, as science and research have progressed, there are multiple advanced cancer treatment options available. Specifically, a relatively new treatment option called proton therapy is starting to become increasingly popular. This therapy is an advanced form of radiation, one that stops at a very specific point within the targeted tissue or tumor, giving it multiple benefits that include, but are not limited to, increased efficacy and safety. Read on to learn more about proton therapy, how it works, and how you might be able to integrate it into a treatment plan. Do not forget to consult a physician before making any decisions regarding the medical care for yourself or a loved one.
Advanced Cancer Treatment Options: A Look at Proton Therapy
1. Fewer side effects.
Radiation and chemotherapy, while sometimes effective, can cause lasting damage to internal organs. These sad side effects appear to be almost unavoidable, but proton therapy might be able to mitigate some of them. Since proton therapy is a non-invasive cancer treatment, meaning physicians do not have to use surgery techniques, there are fewer risks involved. Furthermore, it utilizes a type of radiation that does not go beyond the targeted tumor, meaning that normal, healthy tissues surrounding the area are less affected. For example, one study showed that of men with low-, intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer, saw fewer signs of cancer recurrence within five years of follow-up after treatment with proton therapy. Qualitatively, 99 percent, 94 percent and 74 percent, respectively, saw no signs of cancer recurrence during these visits. Many of these men were able to live normal, healthy lives after their treatment concluded. The results of another study stated that 94% of men are able to remain sexually active after proton therapy for prostate cancer, meaning their risk of impotence was decreased. Limiting the number of side effects is helpful for both physical and psychological health.
2. Shorter treatment times leading to increased safety.
Radiation can be damaging, so decreasing the exposure time is crucial. Proton therapy is one of the safer advanced cancer treatment options because of this targeted approach. In fact, on average, there is no radiation that reaches the heart and there is 50% less radiation that reaches the lungs when compared to conventional radiation therapies. It also decreases the dose of radiation that reaches gastrointestinal structures by at least 59% when compared to X-rays. Even though a treatment session may take anywhere from 15 to 45 minutes, the actual time that protons are delivered to the tumor is generally around a minute or two. This decreases risk during the procedure holistically.
3. increasing in popularity.
Advanced cancer treatment options that work tend to increase in popularity over time, as physicians and patients regard them as the best first line of defense against this awful disease. Proton therapy has been steadily increasing in popularity, reflecting this trend. In 2015, there were more than 30 centers with proton therapy capabilities, with 80 more proton therapy centers under construction. This is a drastic increase in the availability of this treatment, perhaps due to its effectiveness.
4. Available for many types of cancers.
Cancer is a terrible disease that can affect essentially any body part. Some types of advanced cancer treatment options are most useful for certain types of cancers, and their usage is directed towards these specific patients. Proton therapy is an effective option for the care of multiple types of cancer, including prostate cancer treatment, brain cancer treatment, breast cancer treatment, and head and neck cancer treatment.
Choosing which treatment is right for you or a loved one is an excruciating process, which should always be reviewed by at least one physician. As research continues to progress within the scientific and medical fields, more and more advanced cancer treatment options, such as proton therapy, will become available. It is important to keep up to date with the latest information and remain educated on all aspects of the treatment process.