Cancer is a deadly illness that affects millions of Americans each year. Onset of cancer can range from children all the way to those over the age of 60 and each year, though untold amounts of people give donations to cancer fighting organizations and those looking for effective treatment, cancer still, and tragically, takes the lives of many.
Fortunately, lately there has been a new addition to cancer fighting techniques called proton therapy. A quick look into a particular type of cancer shows just how effective this cancer treatment may be.
Prostate cancer is a type of cancer that affects men in their prostate gland, which is located near the sexual functioning organs of a man. It affects around one million new men each year and claims the lives of hundreds of thousands. While some of those with prostate cancer live as if they did not have it, some are afflicted with a high risk form of prostate cancer that involves treatment.
Those that are diagnosed with prostate cancer often choose to seek out a prostate cancer specialist who can inform them about different treatment options, including standard radiation treatment. However, the radiation therapy can have damaging side effects, including sexual dysfunction or even impotency.
For these patients, they may feel they are at their wits end. The prostate cancer specialist may then offer surgery as an option. Unfortunately, in this case, surgery for prostate cancer is technically difficult and can result in damage to the person’s sexual organs. Finally, the prostate cancer specialist may suggest a new form of radiation therapy that results in less damage and treats the cancer equally effectively.
This new form of radiation therapy is called proton therapy. Proton therapy is a type of radiation that stops at the intended target area, where the tumor is, without moving to other parts of the flesh. This results in less damage to tissue.
The benefits of this treatment can be seen in other forms of cancer treatment.
- For those with breast cancer, this means no radiation to the heart and 50% less radiation to the lungs.
With proton therapy in prostate cancer, a study showed that men had a significantly lessened risk of sexual impotence, with 94% of men continuing to be sexually active after treatment. Also, men who underwent proton therapy for prostate cancer saw no sign of cancer at a five year follow-up; 99% for low risk cancer, 94% for medium risk cancer, and 74% for high risk cancer.
It remains to be seen if proton cancer treatment has such a powerful treatment effect for others cancers. However, proton therapy for breast cancer, proton therapy for brain cancer, proton therapy for head and neck cancer, should be a growing area of research.
It seems to be a growing method of treatment for cancer. At the beginning of 2015, more than 30 particle centers, with 80 treatment rooms, were being constructed. Generally, treatment takes between 15 and 45 minutes.