Proton therapy, one of the best ways to treat cancer
The stigma attached to cancer earlier, saying that it is incurable was more killing fact for the patients then the disease itself. However, gone are the days of stigmatization. With advancement in medical science and newer technology coming into play, cancer is curable just like any other diseases. Among the various available technologies in cancer treatment, proton therapy, also known as the proton beam therapy is considered as one of the best ways to treat cancer, according to experts.
Unlike the normal x-ray radiation used to treat cancer, in case of proton therapy the external-beam radiation also known as proton is used. These proton are positively charged particle which is part of an atom, and at high energy, these protons destroys the cancer cells. The proton therapy is painless and with this procedure there is no danger of the tissues around the tumor getting damaged as it is with the traditional radiation treatment procedure. With the proton therapy, doctors can just select an appropriate dose and administer, without affecting the healthy tissue.
As against the x-rays which deposits radiation doses in healthy tissues beyond the tumor thereby causing side effects at times, in case of cancer treatment using proton therapy the tumor is first located using computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tests, following which a synchrotron or cyclotron equipment is used which accelerates the protons. In this process the protons travels to a specific depth in the body based on their energy. After the protons reach the desired distance, they deposit the specified radiation dose around the tumor, leaving minimal radiation doses behind. During the procedure the patient will be fitted with a device that restricts the patient’s movement so that the tumor is prevented from moving out of the proton beam.
One of the best part of this proton therapy is that patients need not get hospitalized. However the number of treatment sessions depends on the severity of the cancer. Since the proton therapy goes to a specific area of the patient’s body, so this therapy can best shrink tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body. It is especially useful for treating a tumor next to critically important tissues, for instance like the optic nerves. Currently it is being used to treat cancer of the central nervous system, eye, head and neck, lung, liver and prostrate cancers.
According to Dr. Sandeep Jain, Consultant, Radiation Oncology at Narayana Health City, Bengaluru: “The main advantages of proton therapy is that the chances of second malignancy is less as it will not cause much spill in the surrounding areas like the conventional x-ray radiation. It is important for pediatric cancer. In another two years few centers in India are likely to get the proton therapy, to name a few -Tata Memorial Hospital, Mumbai and Apollo Hospital, Chennai. The process is in the pipeline at Narayana Health, Bengaluru.”