What Proton Therapy May Do For a Cancer Patient Today

Cancer still stands as one of the most serious health conditions in the modern United States, and while there are proven methods of dealing with it, such as chemotherapy and radiation therapy, another, newer method has emerged and is gaining popularity at any cancer treatment center: proton cancer treatment. Proton beam radiation can do a lot of good at a cancer treatment center, and any patient who visits a cancer treatment center may opt for this form of non-invasive cancer treatment. Advanced cancer treatment options such as this may offer relief for a cancer patient, and they can consult their doctor about the possibility of proton radiation therapy at their nearest cancer treatment center. This technology is recent, but it has already proven itself both potent and popular, and there are minimal side effects to proton therapy when compared to older methods of cancer treatment at a cancer treatment center. What is there to know about proton beam therapy?

The Basics

Proton beam radiation is done with a machine called a synchrotron, which will electrically charge and excite protons, and then issue them in a narrow beam through a nozzle. This beam acts as a tightly controlled cancer-destroying tool that will strike tumors or cancer cells and destroy them. The main advantage is that this method of cancer treatment will have very little effect on the tissue surrounding or behind a cancerous growth, meaning that the full-body symptoms suffered by patients of chemotherapy or full-body radiation therapy will be absent. As long as the doctors controlling the beam know what they are doing, a beam like this will destroy only what it is meant to.

How often is this method of cancer treatment effective? Previous uses of it show that often, the side effects are minimal, and the cancer treatment itself is often very thorough. For example, researchers have found that 99%, 94%, and 74% of men suffering low, moderate, or high risk prostate cancer, respectively, had so sings of cancer recurrence during their follow-up if they underwent proton beam therapy. Similarly, male patients who underwent proton beam therapy for prostate cancer nearly always reported having no ill effects on their reproductive health after undergoing this method of cancer treatment. Not all types of cancer can be targeted with proton beam therapy at a cancer treatment center, but many can, and the results are nearly always positive. Breast cancer can also be treated with it. In this case, the proton beam expends most of its energy on the cancerous growth in the breast tissue, and when this is done, the patient’s heart will be exposed to only half of the radiation that it would be if the patient underwent conventional radiation therapy for breast cancer. With all this in mind, what might a patient expect at a cancer treatment center when they are approved for proton cancer treatment?

Getting the Treatment

A patient who is to undergo proton therapy treatment may expect to experience several sessions until the cancerous growth is fully destroyed. During each visit, the patient will first have his or her X-rays taken, and these images will reveal the size, location, and shape of the cancerous growths, so that the doctors know where the affected area is and can aim the proton beam. Next, the patient will be taken to the treatment room, and will either sit in a chair or lay on a table, depending on the cancerous growth’s location in the body, and the active synchrotron will be in that room, too. Now, the doctors will be seated in a nearby room and remotely control the synchrotron, and move the beam so that it strikes the cancerous growth but not the surrounding tissue. The doctors may use an intercom to converse with the patient if need be, and the patient is advise to remain still while the process is underway so that the beam does not strike other tissues. The proton beam destroys cancerous growths on contact, and the beam therapy stage of this visit takes only a minute or two. Including X-rays and other work, the entire process will take around 45 minutes during a visit to a cancer treatment center.

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