Proton therapy, AKA proton beam therapy, is a form of radiation treatment that administers protons to treat cancer. A proton beam is a type of particle therapy that uses a beam of protons to irradiate diseased tissue.
The advantage of administering proton therapy is essentially based on the fact that higher doses of radiation can be used to control and manage cancer while significantly reducing damage to healthy tissue and vital organs. Protons are therefore a superior form of radiation therapy.
Proton beam therapy works on the principle of selective cell destruction. The energy distribution of protons can be directed and deposited in designated tissue volumes in a three-dimensional pattern from each beam used. This in turn provides greater control and precision and therefore superior management of treatment which in turn significantly reduces the amount of damage to healthy tissue.
When administering proton therapy, the protons are energised to specific velocities. These energies determine how deeply in the body protons will deposit their maximum energy called the Bragg peak. The surrounding healthy cells receive significantly less damage than the cells in the designated volume. As a result, the radiation oncologist can increase the dose to the tumor while reducing the dose to healthy tissue. This is done by determining the exact location of the Bragg peak, and inflicting maximum damage to those cells, with minimum harm to nearby healthy tissue.
This allows the dose to be increased beyond a measure than less-conformal radiation can allow. The overall outcome results in fewer side effects, more direct radiation to the tumor and overall increased tumor control.
Proton therapy will target the abnormal cells with maximum precision and minimal damage. There is an overall reduction in toxicity, as opposed to standard radiation therapy.
Proton therapy may be used to treat recurrent tumors and can increase the long-term survival rate of patients with certain types of tumors.
Learn more about proton therapy centers.