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What is Proton Therapy?

By EmpowHER June 15, 2011 - 9:24am

Proton Therapy
Proton therapy is an advanced type of radiation treatment that uses a beam of protons to irradiate – or deliver radiation – directly to the tumor, destroying cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue and other critical areas or vital organs.

With conventional radiation therapy, X-ray beams pass through both healthy and cancerous tissues, destroying everything in the path of the X-ray beam. Both the cancerous tissues and the surrounding healthy tissue are damaged. Consequently, physicians must limit the dosages of traditional radiation to minimize the harmful impact to healthy tissues near the tumor.

With proton therapy, beams of protons are used to precisely target and kill cancerous tumors, even those tumors that are difficult to reach because they are near or within vital areas or located in sensitive areas of the body. Supercharged protons enter the body with a low dose of radiation, stop at the tumor site, conform to – or “match” – the tumor’s shape and volume or depth, and deposit the bulk of their cancer-fighting energy right at the site of the tumor.

Proton therapy allows powerful doses of radiation to be delivered directly to the tumor with little damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. This is especially important when treating areas near vital organs, such as the lungs, or tumors near the eye, brain and esophagus, and when treating cancers in children.

Pencil Beam Proton Therapy

Pencil beam scanning builds on the benefits of proton therapy. With a proton beam just millimeters wide, pencil beam combines precision and effectiveness, offering unmatched ability to treat a patient’s tumor without compromising quality of life – during and after treatment. Because pencil beam proton therapy is even more targeted it results in even greater radiation dose directly to the tumor, shorter daily treatments and reduced side effects for patients.

Pencil beam is very effective in treating the most complex tumors, like those in the prostate, brain, base of the skull, and eye, and cancers in children, as well as irregularly shaped or hard-to-reach tumors, while sparing healthy tissue and other critical areas.

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