Interested in learning more about proton therapy, proton therapy treatment, and proton therapy technology? Download our free resources.
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In the treatment of cancer, high doses of radiation are used to destroy cancer cells by damaging their DNA. When the DNA of a cancer cell is destroyed beyond repair, the cell dies and is then eliminated by the body through natural processes.
Proton therapy is a type of radiation treatment that is able to target tumors with precision.
Proton therapy, or proton beam therapy, is a type of radiation therapy used in the treatment of cancer. Unlike photon-based forms of external beam radiotherapy, proton therapy enables an intense dose distribution pattern, depositing radiation in the precise dimensions of a tumor while eliminating the exit dose and damage to adjacent normal tissue.
Because of its unique dose-deposition characteristics, proton therapy is indicated for treating tumors near critical organs and brain tissue, including the treatment of head and neck cancers.
Pencil beam scanning (PBS) is the most precise form of proton therapy. Using an electronically guided scanning system and magnets, PBS delivers proton therapy treatment via a proton beam that is just millimeters wide. With PBS, beam position and depth are able to be controlled, allowing for highly precise deposition of radiation to be delivered in all three dimensions of the tumor.
Particle accelerators, used to manipulate the behavior of ions for use in treatment, play a central role in delivering proton therapies. The two types of accelerators most commonly used are the synchrotron and cyclotron. Oftentimes, these machines also represent the single largest expense for medical facilities. When determining what system best fits the needs of their constituency, medical facilities administrators and stakeholders should consider the unique features of each.
Download a list of research studies published between 2016 and 2018 that underscore the benefits of proton therapy for certain cancer patients. The majority of the studies employ pencil beam scanning, the most precise form of proton therapy.