Clinical benefits of proton therapy
Improves the probability of a cure and spares healthy tissue surrounding the tumor
The targeted bundling of the proton energy directly within the tumor reduces the total radiation delivered to healthy tissue to only one-third or less, depending on the relevant tumor geometry, in comparision to X-ray radiation with the same tumor dose. This enables a higher therapeutic dose to be used so tumor cells can be reliably destroyed. Theoretically, this means the probability of a cure rises in unmetastasized tumors. Currently, with chordomas of the skull e.g. the rate from 20 to 55% “local control rates” with x-rays raises to 70 till 80% with protons (see e.g. Scientific Report 2007 of the PSI Paul Scherrer Institute in Villingen, Switzerland). Analysis of more than 2,000 proton therapy patients showed that 98% were cured (Ocular melanomas, references ibid.).“
Fewer, less severe side effects
Radiotherapy is frequently so hard on the body that hospitalization is necessary. However, the favorable ratio of useful radiation to damaging radiation in proton therapy allows medical personnel to increase the therapeutic dose, which is limited due to side effects, while simultaneously reducing the dose deposited in healthy tissue. Proton radiation is relatively well tolerated and can usually be administered on an outpatient basis. This also substantially reduces the risk of a secondary tumor later on. With conventional radiotherapy, radiation-induced tumors occur at a rate as high as 1% per year. This is why there is a global agreement that children requiring radiation treatment must undergo proton therapy.
More treatment options
The radiation-free zone behind the tumor means proton radiation can be used on forms of cancer where conventional radiation is too risky, such as tumors near the spinal cord or brain stem, bronchial carcinoma (lung cancer), or multiple metastases. For example, it is possible to target the retina without damaging the optic nerve or the portion of the brain behind the eye.
Reduced treatment time
Often, fewer sessions are required than for X-ray radiation because proton therapy permits higher doses at each session. This reduces the burden on the patient and facilitates shorter treatment times.