What is Proton Beam Therapy?

Cancer proton therapy

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with cancer, you certainly are interested in advanced cancer treatment options. New brain cancer treatment, breast cancer care, and prostate cancer options are all constantly being worked on. One of the newest types of care for a variety of cancers, including brain cancer treatment, is proton therapy.

  • What is proton therapy? Proton beam therapy is a type of targeted radiation treatment. It goes right to the target area and stops there, unlike conventional radiation which goes on beyond the tumor.
  • Why is proton cancer treatment preferable? Whether you’re speaking of brain cancer treatment or breast cancer treatment, no one wants radiation spreading anywhere it doesn’t need to be. Proton therapy does a superior job of protecting non-cancerous tissue from radiation. For example, in traditional radiation for breast cancer, the heart and lungs are irradiated as the cancer in the breast is treated. With proton therapy, there is normally no radiation that reaches the heart and a 50% reduction in the amount that reaches the lungs.
  • What types of cancer can proton beam therapy be used for? There is currently proton radiation therapy avaialble for a variety of cancers, including brain cancer treatment, for prostate cancer, for breast cancer, for cancers in the head, neck, and eye, and for cancers of the central nervous system.
  • Is proton beam therapy an effective and safe treatment for cancer? All cancer treatments carry some degree of risk, however proton beam therapy has a good track record of safety compared to other types of non-invasive cancer treatment. When men are treated for prostate cancer with proton therapy, for example, their risk of impotence is vastly reduced. After treatment, 94% report remaining sexually active. The treatment is also showing promise are brain cancer treatment for glioblastomas, which make up 15% of all primary brain tumors and are notoriously difficult to treat. Every year, 23,800 adults and 4,830 children are diagnosed with cancer of the brain or spine, and brain tumors are the great majority of that number.
  • Is proton beam therapy available and how expensive is it? Since proton beam therapy is a fairly new type of treatment, it is not available in every hospital. The great promise the treatment holds for combating cancer, however, has led to the quick development of new treatment centers. As of 2015, there were more than 30 centers, with 80 treatment rooms, under construction. The treatment requires specialized equipment, which increases expenses, so it’s always wise to talk with an insurance provider about what they will cover.

Proton therapy has great promise as an effective and safe brain cancer treatment. It is also effective with a wide variety of other common cancers. It has fewer and less serious side effects than other types of cancer treatment. As more people use this type of treatment, more centers will be built and costs will go down. In the fight against cancer, proton beam therapy is one of the most potent new weapons we have.

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