Proton beam therapy is a new type of radiation therapy for liver cancer. Research suggests that it may be equally effective as traditional radiation therapy but cause fewer side effects.
Proton beam therapy, or proton therapy, uses protons to destroy cancer cells instead of X-rays like traditional radiation therapy. Healthcare professionals have used it to treat cancer in clinics since the 1950s, but significant technological advances occurred during the
Proton beam therapy may cause less damage to healthy tissue and fewer side effects than traditional radiation therapy.
As of now, proton beam therapy is still available only at a few clinics and is more expensive than traditional radiation therapy.
Read on to learn more about how proton beam therapy treats liver cancer and who might benefit from it.
Proton beam therapy uses an external machine to aim protons at your cancer cells. Protons are positively charged particles that can destroy cancer cells when they’re accelerated to high speeds. The energy from these particles destroys cancer cells by damaging their DNA.
In traditional radiation therapy, X-rays emit energy along the entire path they travel. A large percentage of their energy passes through the tumor. Radiation that passes through the tumor is called the exit dose. The exit dose can cause
Protons release their energy at a specific distance over a short range, potentially limiting damage to healthy cells. They produce almost no exit dose.
As of now, there’s still a lack of research about who makes the best candidate for proton therapy. But proton therapy shows
People who don’t make good candidates for traditional radiation therapy because of a high likelihood of radiation-induced liver disease may be better suited for proton beam therapy than people who aren’t at high risk.
This condition occurs when the tumor extends into the central vein that drains blood from your gastrointestinal tract to your liver.
The primary advantage of proton beam therapy over traditional radiation therapy is that it’s linked to lower rates of side effects but comparable survival rates. Many
The 5-year local control rate is the percentage of people with a smaller tumor 5 years after their treatment than at the beginning of their treatment.
The researchers reported that half of the 46 people in their study lived at least 30.7 months.
|5-year overall survival rate|
- Cost: Proton therapy is more expensive than traditional radiation therapy, and not all insurance companies provide coverage since there’s limited research showing that it provides additional benefits for liver cancer.
- Availability: Proton therapy requires expensive technology that’s only available at a few facilities. As of April 2019, there were only 31 proton therapy facilities in the United States and 81 worldwide. Another 41 were under construction.
Proton therapy usually causes fewer side effects than regular radiation therapy since the radiation more specifically targets cancer cells.
Of the people in the study, 391 received proton therapy and 1,092 received traditional radiation therapy.
The researchers found that proton therapy showed a significantly lower likelihood of side effects within 90 days, but there was no difference in overall survival.
Proton therapy is a relatively new but promising treatment for liver cancer. Researchers are continuing to examine how to use it best and who might benefit from it most. It usually causes fewer side effects than traditional radiation therapy.
Proton therapy is only available at a few treatment centers in the United States. But the technology is becoming more readily available as researchers continue to find promising results.