How Proton Radiation Therapy Is Changing the Way Men Recover From Prostate Cancer

Treatment of prostate cancer

A prostate cancer cure is a misnomer, because cancer is not so much cured as removed from the body using surgery, standard radiation, chemotherapy, and immunotherapy. With that said, proton radiation therapy is a promising treatment option with specific benefits that are attractive to men with prostate cancer.

How Proton Therapy Is Changing Cancer Treatment and Recovery.

A cancer diagnosis changes a person’s life. Perhaps surprisingly, it is not the disease itself that turns one’s life upside down so much as the treatments meant to destroy it for good. Chemotherapy and radiation are effective, but the side effects are horrendous. Patients lose their hair, lose weight through loss of appetite, and feel weak and nauseous, among other things. Proton therapy is an option that changes the way patients recovery from radiation treatment by changing the way that radiation is applied to the body.

What Is Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy is a radiation treatment. It differs from traditional cancer radiation treatments because proton treatment is able to focus on the specific area that has the cancer and goes no farther. Traditional radiation options continue on past the point of the cancer which can result damage to healthy tissues.

When proton therapy is used to treat breast cancer treatment for example, the radiation stops at the breast and does not pass through to the heart. At least 50% of the radiation was reduced when it reached the patients lungs. Radiation necrosis (tissue death) is therefore significantly reduced.

What Are the Benefits of Proton Therapy?

A reduction in radiation necrosis is not the only benefit. Proton therapy is not a prostate cancer cure of course, but the results are promising. By reducing the extension of radiation to the surrounding healthy tissues, men especially have seen a reduction in other problems associated with traditional prostate cancer options.

In a study of men diagnosed with low-, intermediate-, and high-risk- prostate cancer who received proton therapy it was found that their success of a complete remission of cancer at the five year mark was 99%, 94%, and 74%, respectively. Also, another benefit of this type of therapy’s targeted approach has significantly reduced the risk of impotence related to treatment for 94% of men.

What Are the Risks of Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy is not a prostate cancer cure, however this method does appear to have significant benefits when compared to traditional radiation treatment. But what are the risks associated with this relatively new treatment option? Hardly any, in fact. Even the treatment time frame is fairly short. Depending on the area to be treated, it might take between 15 to 45 minutes for set up, and only a few minutes of actually receiving radiation.

There is no prostate cancer cure. In fact, prevention is said to be the best medicine. However, proton therapy is a treatment option that seems to offer great benefits in the form of less radiation overall, shortened actual treatment times, and less risk of radiation necrosis. That is certainly good news for those who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.

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