September 09, 2011
Proton Therapy Center National Education Conference: Day 1 Highlights
BY Dana Lee
The Proton Therapy Center National Education Conference is designed to educate healthcare professionals on the recent advances, current treatment modalities, and clinical trials in radiation oncology using proton therapy.
This post features key insights from most of the Day 1 speakers including information on proton therapy for multiple disease sites, and recent advances in the field.
Physics of Proton Therapy (Radhe Mohan, PhD)
- Proton therapy has an inherent advantage because proton radiation dose patterns can be shaped to conform to the shape of a tumor.
- Physicists ensure equipment is performing correctly, that treatment plans are optimal for each patient and that the complex ways in which the particles travel within the body are deeply understood so they can be distributed effectively.
- To make protons useful for radiation therapy thin beams entering the treatment "nozzle" must be spread laterally and longitudinally, and shaped appropriately.
Proton Therapy for Head and Neck Malignancies (Steven J. Frank, MD)
- Proton therapy has the ability to optimize cure and improve the quality of life for head and neck patients because proton radiation therapy eliminates ionizing radiation to normal tissue.
- Due to accurate radiation dose delivery, proton therapy for head and neck cancers has the potential to decrease instances of acute morbility such as mucositis, dysphagia, motor/sensory function and many more.
- "Proton therapy is the future of head and neck cancer." - Dr. Frank
- Because lymphoma is a highly curable disease, patients live long enough to see secondary side effects. Proton beam therapy, especially in early lymphoma, is instrumental in avoiding these side effects.
- For Hodgkin's lymphoma, fields of radiation are getting smaller, therefore proton therapy is a great opportunity to introduce less toxic radiation.
- Patients who relapse with advanced lymphoma undergo multiple courses of chemotherapy which significantly depletes their bone marrow. Proton therapy avoids delivering a dose to the organs anterior to the spine and the vertebral body, effectively preserving the marrow.
- 350 lung cancer patients have been treated with adapted proton therapy.
- Improvement in therapeutic ratio with protons can potentially improve outcomes and reduce potential acute late effects
- Multiple factors, including their young age while receiving treatment, makes children more susceptible to developing secondary cancers later in life.
- Proton therapy often allows physicians to avoid areas of the brain, including the left temporal lobe and hippocampi, which can safeguard childhood development.
- Watch a video of Dr. Mahajan discussing the benefits of proton therapy for pediatric patients.
- Proton therapy enables higher radiation doses directly to the tumor site which yields higher PSA control rates.
- The age of prostate cancer diagnoses is getting younger and patients are living longer; therefore, proton therapy's ability to spare surrounding healthy tissue reduces the risk for late side effects.
- The fundamental difference between x-ray beams and proton beams is that x-ray beams travel throughout the body; whereas, proton beams deliver their strongest dose at the tumor site.
- Proton therapy is especially valuable in the superior mediastinum to reduce doses to the heart, lungs and esophagus.
- There are unprecedented opportunities to extend the use of proton therapy to many disease sites that could benefit from normal tissues avoidance.