Is Proton therapy safer than Photon therapy? (2022 update) 

In this article we will discuss on “Is Proton therapy safer than Photon therapy”? Proton therapy is a treatment that is précised for tumors. It is an advanced treatment that focuses more on tumors compared to other treatments. And it causes less radiation and damage to the surrounding tissues. We are going to explore complete proton therapy, so be with us till the end! Let’s directly dive into details! 


What is Proton Therapy? 

Proton therapy is known as proton beam therapy. It is a radiation-based treatment that kills the cells of a tumor. Protons have rare properties that help doctors to target the tumor cells easily. The proton beam destroys the tumor-causing cells and does not harm the surrounding healthy tissues. Do most people want to know What is proton therapy for? Proton therapy is used to cure cancer cells. It is also used to treat some other diseases such as Sarcomas.

Working procedure of Proton Beam Therapy: 

Proton beam therapy kills the DNA of tumors by separating the hydrogen atoms and sending them in a particle accelerator such as a cyclotron. A special type of device is used which is able to rotate at 360 degrees having a large magnet that focuses on the stream of protons as a thin beam only 5 millimeters (about 0.2 in) wide. And the magnet’s purpose is to guide the beam to directly attack the tumor from different angles. A doctor can adjust the proton beam according to the depth of the tumor so that radiation can attack from different parts of the tumor.

Photon therapy

Now, the radiation will destroy the DNA of the tumor completely, so that it will not be repaired again or unable to grow its cells again. In the end, a tumor stops growing. The effects of proton radiation depend on the size of the tumor and its location in the body. Do most people want to know that What types of cancer are treated with proton therapy? Most commonly, proton beam therapy is used to cure head and neck cancer, but it is also used to treat cancer of the spine, breast, sarcoma, brain, and prostate.

Time Duration of Proton Therapy Treatments: 

Proton therapy treatment duration depends on the location, size, and depth of tumors. But the most expected duration is 15-30 minutes. The treatment needs only a few minutes to be done but the time needed to position the patient and calibrate the machine before creating a proton beam. It will take hours or maybe more than that for the setup to be done accurately. A patient may need several treatments depending on the condition.

Treatment is done on a daily basis, or maybe twice a day and maybe it is complete in multiples weeks. Your radiation oncologist will set up the best treatment schedule for you. Do most people want to know that What is the success rate of proton therapy? 46% of patients who have gone for proton therapy will be cancer-free after 3 years.

For What disease Proton Therapy is used? 

 Proton therapy is used to treat cancer, but it can also be used for noncancerous tumors, especially in children and adults. Proton therapy is used to cure tumors that are composed of variant types of cells that may be present in different parts of your body, some examples are as follows: 

  • Brain tumors that are present in the base of the skull.  
  • Spinal cord tumors 
  • Head and neck cancer 
  • Breast cancer 
  • Lung cancer and thoracic cancers such as thymoma mesothelioma and lymphoma. 
  • Liver cancer and metastatic tumors of the liver.
  • Pancreatic cancer 
  • Rectal cancer 
  • Prostate cancer 
  • Tumors that compose even after treatment. 
  • Sarcomas 
  • Eye cancer, such as ocular melanoma.

Benefits of Proton Therapy: 

The main benefit of proton therapy is to target the tumor cells precisely. Research has shown that in proton therapy there is a huge usage of radiation but significantly it causes less damage to nearby healthy cells. Thus, the side effects of this treatment are somehow less or milder and there is a low risk of regeneration of tumor cells.  This treatment of proton therapy offers additional benefits which are as follows: 

  • This treatment protects crucial neurological functions such as memory. When the tumor is near these functions, in that case, proton beam therapy is best as it will not damage your memory. 
  • It will minimize the effects of radiation when it is used to treat the organs near the heart or lungs. 
  • This treatment is best for children as it can reduce the side effects of toxic substances. 
  • If the tumor is regenerated again, than this treatment is best, as it will destroy the DNA of the tumor so that it is not possible for tumor cells to regenerate again.

Side effects of Proton Beam Therapy: 

Proton therapy side effects are as follows:

  • Proton therapy is an expensive treatment so, its centers are fewer in number, and you may have to travel from one country to another country for treatment. 
  •  Proton therapy radiation treatment needs more time than traditional radiation therapy. So, if you are in a hurry, then your doctor may suggest to you a traditional type of radiation treatment which is not good for you. 
  • Your radiation oncologist may need a long duration to prepare everything for your treatment. 
  • Proton therapy is more expensive than photon therapy because of the heavy advanced machinery and tools which are required in proton therapy. That’s why it is a little bit expensive to operate. Some physicians do not recommend it if they do not have any evidence of better results. It is crucial to consult your insurance provider for better coverage. Many protons therapy centers, such as the center at Johns Hopkins, have insurance authorization specialists who are ready to guide you in obtaining treatment authorization. 

Final Takeaway: 

It is a brief discussion on proton therapy and its benefits along with side effects. Proton therapy is a new advanced expensive treatment compared to photon therapy. And it delivers more accurate results rather than traditional radiation treatment as it will kill the DNA of the tumor so that it will not regenerate again. Did you find it worth reading? If yes, share your experience with us in the comment box below. 

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