June 22, 2024

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Proton therapy treats canncers/tumors less side effects than Radiation therapy

Proton therapy treats canncers/tumors less side effects than Radiation therapy


Proton therapy treats canncers/tumors less side effects than Radiation therapy. Radiation therapy for brain tumors, breast cancer, lung cancer, esophageal cancer and other tumors has large side effects, and proton therapy relieves worries

Radiotherapy uses ionizing radiation to destroy the DNA in the cell nucleus, so that the cell loses the ability to proliferate, and achieves the purpose of killing tumor cells.

Radiotherapy is one of the three important methods for the treatment of malignant tumors. About 60% to 70% of patients with malignant tumors require radiotherapy.

In 2014, WHO statistics showed that the current cure rate of cancer is 55%, of which 27% is contributed by surgery, 22% is contributed by radiotherapy, and 6% is contributed by chemotherapy and other treatments. Therefore, it is not an exaggeration to say that radiotherapy can be on its own.

Radiotherapy uses ionizing radiation to destroy the DNA in the cell nucleus, so that the cell loses the ability to proliferate, and achieves the purpose of killing tumor cells.

However, during radiotherapy, while the radiation is irradiating the tumor cells, the normal tissues around the tumor cells are also irradiated to varying degrees, causing some adverse reactions, which require symptomatic treatment. Most cases are controllable, and a few severe cases require suspension. Radiation therapy or give up radiation therapy.

In reality, unlike surgical treatment, cancer patients are still very repulsive of radiotherapy. Not everyone is willing to receive radiotherapy to alleviate the condition or even get a chance of cure. The fear of radiotherapy is mostly caused by radiation damage caused by radiotherapy, such as scorched skin, damage to salivary glands, loss of taste and smell, loss of sexual function, skin rash, headache…

Therefore, scientists have been studying how to increase the radiation dose of the tumor target area, improve the local control rate of the tumor; reduce the radiation dose of normal tissues around the tumor, and preserve the normal function of important organs;
Improving the quality of life of patients cannot allow treatment to bring about worse results than the disease.

Therefore, proton therapy, a high-end radiotherapy method, came into being.


What is proton therapy?

Non-invasive and painless, the patient only needs to lie on the bed and receive a kind of magical radiation to accurately “blast” the cancer cells; each treatment process does not exceed 30 minutes, after the treatment is over, the patient can leave without affecting daily life Living, the survival rate within five years is about 90%, and the side effects of treatment are greatly reduced…

Have you heard of this way of fighting cancer? This is not an exaggeration. In fact, proton therapy, as a “rookie” in the entire field of radiotherapy, is recognized because it can significantly increase the killing effect on tumors and reduce the side effects of traditional radiotherapy on normal tissues and organs. The current cutting-edge radiotherapy technology also shines in the entire tumor treatment industry!

Proton therapy is a powerful and safe alternative therapy that can enable more children to benefit from radiation therapy. As a particle with a positively charged nucleus, protons enter the human body at a very high speed. Because of their high speed, the chance of interacting with normal tissues or cells in the body is extremely low. When they reach a specific part of a cancer cell, the speed suddenly decreases and Stop, release maximum energy (produce Bragg peak), kill cancer cells.



Proton therapy has obvious advantages in brain tumors, lung cancer, childhood tumors and esophageal cancer

Proton therapy has obvious advantages in the treatment of prostate cancer, head and neck cancer (excluding pharyngeal cancer), bone and soft tissue tumors, and childhood tumors. It can also treat breast, lung, pancreas and other organs. In theory, any treatment that can be treated with standard X-ray therapy can be treated with proton therapy. Once the cost issue is resolved, I expect that more and more people will choose proton therapy.

[Advantages of proton therapy in brain tumors]

For children who cannot be operated on, proton therapy is the most important treatment. Conventional surgery and radiotherapy may have serious consequences such as blindness and brain damage, but proton therapy can effectively avoid these injuries. Therefore, proton therapy is the ideal treatment for solid tumors in children!

In fact, many international clinical studies have also reported that proton therapy has significant clinical effects in the treatment of brain tumors.

[Advantages of proton therapy in breast cancer]

Radiation therapy can increase the risk of heart-related complications. According to a 2018 systematic review, proton therapy has a lower risk of these complications because it radiates less to the heart compared to standard photon radiotherapy.


The benefits of proton therapy for breast cancer

  • High-energy, precisely-targeted proton beams can provide high-dose radiation to destroy cancer cells, thereby reducing the recurrence rate of many cancers.
    Proton therapy is non-invasive and can reduce side effects.
  • Patients receiving proton therapy may have increased tolerance to chemotherapy.
  • During and after treatment, patients can maintain their current quality of life.
  • Sometimes it can be effectively used to treat areas that have already received radiation therapy.

Proton therapy treats canncers/tumors less side effects than Radiation therapy

Proton therapy treats canncers/tumors less side effects than Radiation therapy

The pictures are proton therapy followed by conventional X-ray therapy

Note: Red: high radiation dose; green: intermediate radiation dose; blue: low radiation dose

[Advantages of proton therapy in lung cancer]

Proton therapy provides a new non-surgical treatment method for lung cancer patients, which is suitable for lung cancer patients at all stages, and is different from traditional high-energy X-ray radiation (or photons). Due to the unique characteristics of proton therapy, it can provide a specific depth of radiation dose and then suddenly stop, no more radiation dose behind. X-ray radiation treatment will continue to penetrate normal tissues and organs (such as the lungs, heart, esophagus and spinal cord), causing damage and toxicity.

Below is a comparison of the IMRT plan (left) and the proton treatment plan (right) for the same patient. The degree of color gradient represents different radiation doses, high doses of red, medium doses of yellow and green, and low doses of blue.

Proton therapy treats canncers/tumors less side effects than Radiation therapy
For this patient, compared to X-ray radiotherapy, the proton plan significantly reduced the radiation dose to healthy tissues surrounding the tumor, such as the right lung, esophagus, and heart. Low doses to these areas will reduce radiation-induced pneumonia, painful swallowing, and the risk of heart disease.

[Advantages of proton therapy in esophageal cancer]

Speaking of prospective clinical studies of proton radiotherapy for esophageal cancer, we have to mention that at the 61st American Society of Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) annual meeting in 2019, researchers from the MD Anderson Cancer Center in the United States reported this comparison of proton radiotherapy for esophageal cancer A randomized controlled clinical phase ⅡB study comparing photon radiotherapy.

The proton radiotherapy group (73 cases) significantly reduced the total toxicity compared with the photon radiotherapy group (72 cases)
(IMRT 39.9 vs PBT 17.4).

In addition, there was no statistically significant difference in PFS between the proton radiotherapy group and the photon radiotherapy group (median PFS 28.5 months vs 18.1 months).

This clinical trial study fully confirmed that proton radiotherapy can significantly reduce the toxicity of patients with locally advanced esophageal cancer compared with conventional photon radiotherapy, and the overall survival and disease-free survival of the two groups of patients are similar to photon radiotherapy.

According to an article published in the journal “Gastrointestinal Oncology” on the dose advantages of various radiotherapy techniques in the treatment of patients with esophageal cancer, IMRT improves the dose distribution of organs compared with 3D conformal radiotherapy (3DCRT); treatment plan and The comparative study of dosimetry further shows that compared with 3DCRT and IMRT, proton therapy can significantly reduce the radiation dose to the heart and lungs.

Proton therapy can protect the front tissue of the heart to the greatest extent and reduce the radiation dose to the heart, which has obvious clinical advantages. 

The picture shows the comparison of dosimetry between proton therapy and IMRT for esophageal cancer, with proton therapy on the left and intensity-modulated radiotherapy on the right




(source:internet, reference only)

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