A survey conducted by the National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) found the number of centers in the United States offering proton therapy more than doubled from 2012 to 2016 and that the number of patients receiving proton therapy treatment increased significantly during this period.
NAPT’s annual survey found that the number of patients treated with proton therapy in the United States increased by 70% from 2012 to 2016. During this period, the number of patients with tumors of the central nervous system who were treated with proton therapy increased by 95% and the number of patients with head and neck cancer receiving proton therapy treatment more than tripled. Pediatric cases treated with proton therapy realized a 62% increase and the number patients with breast cancer treated with proton therapy increased seven times.
Both the increase in the number of centers offering proton therapy and the increase in the patients receiving proton therapy treatment point to increased knowledge of the benefits of proton therapy treatment for certain types of cancer.
What is proton therapy?
Proton therapy is a type of radiation treatment that is able to target tumors with precision. This enables radiation oncologists to destroy tumors while sparing normal tissue, thereby reducing side effects and improving long-term outcomes for patients.
Proton therapy is particularly effective at treating tumors near sensitive organs, the brain stem, and spinal cord, and in treating pediatric tumors.
Advantages of proton therapy treatment include:
- Ability to target tumors with precision allowing treatment in close proximity to critical structures
- No exit dose, therefore, minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissues and organs
- Ability to target tumors with high dose
- Fewer short-term side effects
- Reduces the risk of long-term side effects, including the development of secondary malignant tumors
- Faster recovery