Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer and More
Cancer has always been one of the banes of the medical community, the out-of-control growth and spreading of cells in a given type of tissue. The brain, lungs, liver, and sex-specific organs such as the cervix, ovaries, testicles, and prostate are all vulnerable to cancer, along with other tissue types. Radiation treatment for cancer already exists, but a new type, proton therapy, is offering a better chance against cancer of many (though not yet all) kinds. Proton therapy for prostate cancer, for example, can curb this unwanted condition, along with breast cancer treatment. Treatment options for cancer now include protons, and they may transform cancer treatment.
How Proton Therapy Works
The actual machine that delivers proton therapy is a synchrotron, a device that excited protons and create high energy. The excited protons issue from the device at nearly 66% of the speed of light in a targeted approach (magnets help guide the beam). Once the proton beam strikes the intended target, the cancer cells, they dose the cells in radiation to disrupt their growth. Broadly, this is similar to other forms of radiation treatment for cancer such as X-rays, but without the collateral damage, since the beam is narrowed and tightly controlled. Proton therapy for prostate cancer, for example, lowers the risk of impotence in the patient, with 94% of men reporting regular sexual health after the treatment. Breast cancer care is similar; traditional radiation therapy will travel through the flesh and may strike the heart, but a proton beam will not.