Proton Therapy And Its Impact on The Quality of Life For Cancer Patients

Proton therapy has been around for decades. However, we are only now considering its advantages over other treatment methods.

The idea of using proton beams for medical purposes was proposed in 1946. And in 1954, proton beams were first used in the medical sector. However, it wasn’t until 1990 that we started using proton therapy as a cancer treatment method.

Several studies have proven that proton therapy is effective in treating cancer and might be safer than other alternatives. Research is still going on to attain more knowledge on this procedure. However, from what we know now, proton therapy might be able to allow you a better quality of life than the traditional methods.

Read on to learn more about proton therapy and its impact on the quality of life for cancer patients.

What Is Proton Therapy? 

Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy. In traditional radiotherapy procedures, X-rays or photon beams were used to eliminate the tumor. However, proton therapy uses protons, the positively charged components of an atom.

In traditional radiation therapies deliver the radiation beams to the tumor and beyond it. This causes damage to the nearby cells and tissues. Many people also experience severe side effects.

However, in proton therapy, the intensity of the radiation is regulated. The proton beams are delivered so that they reach the tumor but not beyond it. Also, you are placed in a position wherein the proton beams will have to travel the least distance through your body to reach the tumor. Therefore, the main recipient of the beams and their effect. The damage to normal healthy cells in this process is considerably less than the traditional radiotherapy methods. Also, the incidence and severity of side effects are significantly reduced.

Impact Of Proton Therapy On The Quality Of Life

As mentioned in the previous section, proton therapy causes remarkably less damage to healthy cells. And although you still might experience some side effects, they will be less likely and possibly less severe than the ones caused by X-ray or photon beam radiation therapies.

The side effects of proton therapy are not apparent right away. Initially, you might experience some redness around the treated area, which might be sore for a few days. However, you might start feeling fatigued as the number of sessions goes on.

Unlike x-ray therapy or photon therapy, undergoing proton therapy has no adverse effect on your ability to perform daily activities. After every treatment session, you can go about with your day as you normally would. This also gives you a sense of normalcy.

Proton beam radiation therapy (PBT), or proton therapy, is known to be able to lower toxicity in cancer patients.

Our knowledge of proton therapy so far looks promising. As the research goes on, there will be new findings.

Over time, we may have a way to exploit the proton therapy technique through its increased efficiency and lowered side effects.

What Does Proton Therapy Involve? 

Proton therapy is administered by a machine called a gantry. It has an outlet that emits proton beams and regulators to manage the intensity of those beams.

Before undergoing a proton therapy treatment, you will undergo some imaging tests, possibly an MRI or CT scan. This helps the doctor to locate the tumor for treatment.

These professionals will place you in a comfortable position in the treatment chamber under the gauntlet outlet. You’ll be positioned so the proton beams will directly go through the target area.

Once you are placed properly, the doctors will perform imaging again. This ensures that the tumor will be the target of the proton beams in your position.

The doctors would then mark the body part(s) where the beams will be targeted. They might use a temporary or a permanent marker.

Once you are settled, the doctors would leave the chamber and move to an adjoining one. From there, they can still see and hear you.

The gantry is then started, and the proton beams are emitted. Their intensity is customizable. The doctors calculate the appropriate intensity based on the location and size of the tumor. You could hear the gantry working, but you wouldn’t feel a thing.

While the radiation only lasts a few minutes, the process takes almost 30 to 45 minutes. Following the treatment, you could go home and indulge in your daily activities.

Typically, proton therapy is administered about five times a week. It could be for a few or several weeks, depending on the stage of your cancer. Also, like traditional radiotherapy, this can be paired with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

The Outlook

Proton therapy is already in practice for cancer treatment. However, oncologists do not prescribe it for every case. You may ask them to consider including proton therapy in your treatment plan instead of traditional radiotherapy. But they would finalize the treatment plan based on what would work best for you. You may opt for second opinions. But note that the ideal cancer treatment plan differs in every case. Trust the expert’s judgment for the best results.

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