Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer

Looking for proton treatment for prostrate cancer or just general information on how the proton therapy for prostate cancer works, this article will prove very helpful.

Proton therapy is a type of particle therapy which uses a beam of protons to irradiate (cast rays of light upon or expose to radiation) diseased tissue, most often in the treatment of cancer. It may be described as an improvement on external beam radiotherapy, which works also by aiming energetic ionizing particles onto the target tumor. In this case however, protons accelerated with a particle accelerator (instead of x-rays, gamma, or other high energy particles from a linear accelerator) are used to damage the DNA of cells, ultimately causing their death.

Because of the high rate of division of cancerous prostate cells, they have a reduced ability to repair damaged DNA, making them particularly vulnerable to attack on their DNA. As is the case with standard radiotherapy, normal cells are able to recover. Further, protons have a relatively larger mass than x-rays so that they don’t scatter as much once they are incident in the target tissue. The result of this in actual treatment is that proton the beam does not broaden much and stays focused on the tumor shape without doing a lot of damage to surrounding tissue

Also, protons are generally concurrent in nature, meaning that all protons of a given energy value have a specific range such that no proton penetrates beyond that distance. In addition to this, protons get stronger as they go further and the dose that is delivered to the cancerous tissue in the body is thus at its maximum (Bragg Peak) just over the last few millimeters of the particle’s range. The result: the proton beam does exactly what it is meant to do and nothing more, making it possible for the patient to receive treatment with fewer side effects.

Under external beam radiation therapy (EBRT), a patient would have had to return to hospital over a period of five to six weeks while the treatment for his prostate cancer was being administered. Further to that, he would develop radiation proctitis due to radiation exposure, causing other side effects that often take a long while to fade out. This is because other cells and tissues in the body are damaged by the radiation during the treatment process and they take a while to heal.

Proton therapy more or less erases most of these. The depth to which the proton beam travels depends on the energy to which the particles were accelerated by the source machine (proton accelerator), which can be adjusted to a maximum or minimum rating. This reduces the risk of cell damage.

Incidentally, statistics reveal that the prostate cancer patients made up over 64% of the number of overall patients treated by proton therapy because it is most profitable in the treatment of well encapsulated tumors. This means that late stage disease may not much be helped by it; but what? 90% of all prostate cancers are diagnosed early, so there is much hope for better cures and fewer relapses.

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  1. Prostate Cancer Treatment Florida – Proton Therapy at University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute

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