How Proton Therapy Is Shaping the Fight Against Cancer
When we deliver radiation to a tumor, our goal is to deposit as much of the dose into the tumor as possible, while keeping as little as possible from going into the surrounding tissue. Protons achieve this goal in a way that isn’t possible with conventional X-rays or electrons.
Proton therapy is a form of radiation treatment that delivers a precise dose of radiation, shrinking tumors while sparing surrounding normal tissue. The result is a better option for treating some types of cancer while causing fewer harmful side effects. Proton therapy is beneficial in shrinking tumors in adult cancers, especially tumors that are located near vital organs, and in pediatric cancer patients whose bodies are still growing. For these types of cancers, proton therapy may make a critical difference in treatment side effects and long-term outcome.
The Patient Benefits of Proton Therapy
When you visit Orlando Health UF Health Cancer Center, your multidisciplinary team will evaluate your case and determine if proton therapy is right for you. Proton therapy may offer significant benefits for patients with tumors next to sensitive, critical structures like the spinal cord, optic nerves, heart, lung or other vital organs.
Some cancers that benefit from proton therapy include:
- Brain Tumors - decreased volume of uninvolved brain receiving radiation
- Breast (especially left side) – reduced radiation dose to the heart
- Lung – less radiation dose to uninvolved lung and heart
- Prostate – decreased radiation to the rectum, bladder and surrounding pelvis
- Select head and neck, bone and muscle, and abdominal cancers
Our First Proton Therapy Patient
Rhea Birusingh found out while she was pregnant that she had a benign brain tumor located behind her right eye. The tumor was inoperable and without proton therapy Rhea faced an increased risk of short-term memory decline and loss of eyesight. After giving birth to her son, Rhea, 37, became our first proton therapy patient, undergoing six weeks of life-changing treatment.