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Monday, 26 March 2012

Proton vs Cancer

Proton vs Cancer

The technology uses narrowly focused proton beams to deliver precisely targeted blasts of radiation. Proponents of the technology say it can zap cancerous tumors without damage to surrounding tissue. It’s a major benefit for  people, especially children who are more sensitive to radiation, who suffer from tumors of the spine, brain and eyes, where stray radiation may blind or paralyze.

The Gantry treatment room is seen at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute in Hampton, Virginia. Source: Alexanders Photography/HUPTI via BloombergProton-beam therapy and traditional X-rays are equally effective at killing tumor cells. The debate is over side effects.

Proton-beam therapy:
Works by shooting intense, narrow beams into targeted areas of the body. Protons slow down as they travel deep in the body. Doctors can manipulate the speed of the atomic particles, allowing them to deposit most of their radiation as they come to a stop inside a tumor.

Conventional Radiation:
X-rays used in conventional radiation therapy are made up of photon beams that zip through a patient, exposing tissues along the way to excess radiation. While modern machines use multiple beams sculpted to intersect and concentrate high doses on a tumor, lower doses are spread over a much larger region.

They say that the proton therapy has wider appeal for treating prostate cancer since existing treatment often causes rectal bleeding as well as impotence. “The easiest group to market to in the country is a group of men worrying about the functioning of their P factor” said Paul Levy, former head of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

One of the critics (see the comment from Suz) said, There is consensus because you can see from any comparative pediatric treatment plan protons are pinpoint targeted, provide no exit dose to surrounding healthy areas and this results in better outcomes for children still growing and developing. There are also studies that show reduced risk of secondary malignancy for children when protons are used.

Side Effects: Clinical trials haven’t yet provided a clear picture proving the treatment’s worth for common tumors such as prostate cancer

Business Week