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How Proton Radiation Therapy Can Be Used In The Fight Against Cancer

Battling cancer is a fight that too many people in the United States have to wage. According to the National Cancer Institute, roughly 1.73 million new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in the United States this year and more than 600,000 people will die from the disease.

Choosing a cancer treatment is never an easy decision. There are many factors to consider with cancer treatment including:

  • Control
  • Comfort
  • Cost
  • Cure
  • Side Effects
  • Overall health

When it comes to choosing a cancer treatment, centers such as The Mayo Clinic offer plenty of information to help you decide the best form of cancer treatment therapy.

One option for cancer treatment that’s available is proton radiation therapy. This form of therapy has been around for about 40 years and is a type of radiation that stops at a very specific point in the targeted tissue whereas traditional radiation continues beyond the tumor.

For example, in breast cancer treatment, this means on average no radiation to the heart and on average, 50 percent less radiation to the lung as compared to conventional radiation. This type of therapy is effective at treating early stage breast cancer and causes less cosmetic damage than conventional radiation.

A woman living in the U.S. has a one-in-eight lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 260,000 new cases will be diagnosed in U.S. women this year alone.

Women who get regular physical activity have a 10 to 20 percent lower risk of breast cancer compared to women are inactive, but millions of women are at risk. Compared to women without a family history, the risk of breast cancer is about two times higher for women with one affected first-degree female relative.

With so many women at risk for breast cancer, mammography remains an effective tool in breast cancer care. Studies show that mammography reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer between 20 percent and 40 percent. According to the 2015 National Health Interview Survey, 50 percent of women 40 or older reported having had a mammogram within the last year and 64 percent reported having a mammogram in the past two years. A breast cancer specialist can be of great help to women in the fight against breast cancer.

Signs of breast cancer can include:

  • Areas of thickening skin
  • Asymmetries
  • Calcifications, especially in small clusters
  • Irregular areas of increased density

Generally speaking, there are many benefits to proton radiation as a type of cancer treatment therapy. For breast cancer and other cancer treatment, those benefits include:

  • It’s accurate and precise, compared to other forms of radiation
  • A treatment session generally takes 15 to 45 minutes, however the actual time spent delivering the protons to the tumor is generally only about a minute or two.
  • It is noninvasive and painless
  • Treatment is provided in an outpatient setting
  • Recovery times are quick and side effects are minimal
  • Little or no impact on a patient’s energy level

When it comes to the use of proton radiation therapy for prostate cancer, studies have shown there are many benefits. Researchers report that 99 percent, 94 percent and 74 percent of men treated with proton radiation therapy with low-, intermediate- and high-risk prostate cancer, respectively, have no signs of cancer recurrence after five years of follow-up.

Due to proton radiation therapy’s targeted approach, studies have found that prostate cancer patients treated this way have a significantly reduced risk of impotence, with 94 percent of men reporting that they remain sexually active after treatment.

The results of proton therapy on breast cancer, lung cancer and prostate cancer have been varied, but the use of proton radiation therapy seems to be growing. At the beginning of 2015, more than 30 particle therapy centers with about 80 treatment rooms were under construction worldwide.

If you’re concerned about your risk of breast cancer, a breast cancer specialist can offer a mammogram and in some cases, 3-D mammography is offered, giving a breast cancer specialist a better look at areas possibly affected by breast cancer.

If you’re considering proton radiation as a cancer treatment therapy, it’s best to consult a doctor and he/she can explain the ins and outs of that type of cancer treatment therapy, how it works and what to expect with treatment. It’s best to consult a cancer specialist and go over your options.

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