Over the past two decades, proton therapy technology has become more compact and the cost of proton therapy systems has dropped. Today, more than 160,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy treatment, and the demand for treatment is unprecedented.
Greater accessibility has allowed both patients and providers to realize a wide range of benefits.
4 benefits of proton therapy
1) Precision of administration
Proton therapy offers the ability to guide treatment beams within millimeters of a target. Providers can be more selective about areas affected by treatment and give higher doses of radiation. This is particularly beneficial for cases in which conventional radiotherapy dose limits on surrounding organs, such as the brain or spinal cord, must be established. With greater accuracy in targeting, patients require fewer treatment sessions and experience fewer side effects.
2) Minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue and vital organs
As a highly-conformal treatment option, proton therapy can help patients avoid the effects of traditional photon therapy such as hearing and vision loss, heart disease, and radiation burns. In children, whose organs and bones are still developing, leaving surrounding tissue unexposed to radiation can stave off future growth problems. When tumors are located near vital organs, precise radiation beams give providers a more efficient and direct way to treat unhealthy cells.
3) Fewer side effects than photon therapy
Proton therapy is non-invasive and painless. It reduces the incidence and severity of side effects associated with traditional photon therapy. Many patients report maintaining the quality of life they had pre-diagnosis – continuing at their jobs, going to the gym, and enjoying time with family. With lower treatment exposure to healthy tissue, the likelihood decreases that secondary malignancies will develop as a result of unnecessary radiation exposure.
4) Cost savings due to shorter therapy duration and adverse effects avoidance
The fact that proton therapy can be used to deliver higher doses of radiation and has the ability to leave surrounding tissue undisturbed, are key factors in cost savings for both short- and long-term care costs. Often times patients require fewer treatments with proton therapy than with traditional X-ray therapy, and many patients can receive proton therapy treatment in an outpatient setting. The ability to couple proton therapy with other treatments, such as chemotherapy, also increases the likelihood that cancers can be eradicated with greater efficiency.
With proton therapy technology continuing to evolve, smaller, more compact systems are emerging – allowing a greater number of facilities to offer the treatment. This treatment expansion is likely to result in better patient outcomes – particularly for pediatric patients and those with tumors near vital organs.
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