Proton Beam Therapy
Proton beam therapy or simply proton therapy is basically a medical modus operandi. It is a kind of particle therapy administered by making use of proton beams for irradiating diseased tissue. This therapy is commonly used for treating cancer. It would be absolutely correct to say that proton therapy is a kind of radiotherapy. However, it is different from conventional radiotherapy in the sense that proton beams are used in place of high energy radiation beams for destroying cancerous cells. A charged particle is used for speeding up the protons which are further beamed into the cancerous cells, destroying them. Dissimilar to conventional radiotherapy, the proton beam used in proton beam therapy stops once it hits cancerous cells. Thus, it eliminates the risk of organ dysfunction and tissue damage.
Understanding Radiation Therapy
Hearing the word therapy could be very daunting to most people. Now, having the same word combined with radiation could bring the worst thought out of us. That’s simply because there are a lot of information out there about this treatment. The thing is that most of that information is either misleading or confusing. However, proton beam therapy has somewhat gained more popularity in the past couple years. Many researchers and doctors have given their approval to this method. A lot of groups and activists also have started a campaign to promote this treatment.
What Is Radiation
To put it simply, radiation is a therapy that uses beam like proton and photon to treat your disease. It could be to reduce a tumor or cancer cell into obliteration. You sure are familiar with the name X-Ray photo at least. It’s not exactly a therapy, but it has similar concept. Your body will be exposed to the radiation beam. However, this treatment can be very expensive since the machine isn’t widely available. Therefore, not a lot of hospitals could give the treatment or a continuous medication afterward.
Why Proton Therapy?
First of all, compared to other radiation beam that has been used in the medical industry, this type has proven so far to have minimum effect to the body. When you have to compare it with photon therapy that often used to treat cancer, Proton has much less effect on nearby organs. This is because even though the energy level was high before it went through the body. The output will be a lot smaller. The technician could always adjust the energy beam used so it will be more precise. This is clearly good news for people who often scared of any change to their appearance. They also don’t have to worry about having to stay in the hospital for so long. Less damaged cells also means quicker recuperation.
There’s still one thing you need to remember about this therapy. There are still a number of insurance companies that won’t cover proton beam therapy. Their reason isn’t just about the expenses, but also about the continuation. There’s still no news or research that stated how this therapy doesn’t work with certain drugs. But let’s not go too far by gathering conspiracy theory on this matter. Proton has become a poster boy for radiation therapy. Slowly it changed the treatment’s stigma into something more acceptable like taking regular drugs.
Who are the People who can fetch the Advantages of Proton Therapy?
Proton beam therapy is of good use in treating cancers in significant areas of the body, especially when reducing the damage to the surrounding tissues is of great significance. Proton beam therapy is mainly used for treating brain tumors in children with brains still in their developing stage. This therapy is also used for treating adult cancers that have developed in a part of the body when tissue damage might result in serious complications like optic nerve. However, it is to be noted that the Cancer Research UK has estimated that only a single individual among 100 people suffering from cancer can be suitable for proton therapy.
Proton Beam Therapy – Is it Really Effective?
It is essential not to take it for granted that the newly budding treatments are far more effective in comparison to existing treatments. However, it is significant to note that proton beam therapy causes less damage to the healthy tissues. Researchers and scientists are still unclear about the fact that whether this therapy is effective in destroying cancerous tissues just like conventional radiotherapy. It is very difficult to accumulate systematic evidence about the effectiveness of proton therapy in comparison to conventional radiotherapy. This is because proton therapy is generally reserved for only rare varieties of cancer. The people who tend to travel abroad for the treatment using proton therapy are found responding well to this treatment.
What can be Expected from the Treatment?
Patients generally receive proton treatment in outpatient settings meaning a patient does not need to get hospitalized for the treatment. Numbers of treatment sessions required by a patient depend on the stage and the type of cancer. Mostly, doctors offer proton treatment in one to five sessions by making use of large doses of regular radiation. The entire procedure is called stereotactic body radiotherapy. It is also called radiosurgery if an individual receives one large dose of radiation.
Proton beam therapy is completely painless. However, post getting treated, you might experience exhaustion as well as skin problems, including irritation, redness, peeling, blistering, dryness and swelling. You might also experience various other side effects if you are receiving chemotherapy side by side. Side effects of this therapy are completely dependent on the body parts which are being treated, the tumor size, type of healthy tissue lying close to the tumor and whether the patient is receiving chemotherapy side by side. The side effects which are likely for you to experience will be discussed with your oncology doctors as well as nurses.
Types of Cancers that can be Treated Using Proton Therapy
Proton beam therapy that is very effective in treating tumors, which have not yet spread and even the tumors close to the important body parts like the ones close to the eyes, the spinal cord and the brain. Proton beam therapy can effectively be used for treating:
• Central nervous system cancers, which include malignant meningioma, chondrosarcoma and chordoma.
• Lung cancer
• Eye cancer, which includes choroidal melanoma or uveal melanoma.
• Liver cancer
• Neck and head cancers, which include paranasal sinus and nasal cavity cancer and nasopharyngeal cancers.
• Prostate cancer
• Noncancerous tumors in the brain
• Pelvic and spinal sarcoma. These are cancers occurring in the bone and the soft-tissue.