Proton Therapy for Cancer Treatment

Proton Therapy for Cancer Treatment : Advantages, Drawbacks and Steps

Cancer is a chronic form of diseases which grows rapidly and can even cause death if its patient is not provided with necessary treatment instantly. Proton therapy for cancer treatment is one of the most advanced plus effective alternative cancer treatment which is far much effective and safe than the conventional forms of treatment.

Under this therapy, much-advanced technology is used with a comparison to X-ray radiation technique that helps to destroy very small cancerous cells along with maintaining full safety of surrounding healthy tissues. This is the reason this technique is popular for its utmost safety feature and benefit.

The positive charged atomic particles are used in this process whose speed remains much faster than the light rays traveling speed to kill the cancerous damaged cells.

It directly attacks the tumor so damaging of nearby healthy tissues risk remains almost nil. Moreover, its side effects are very few which again create one another reason for cancer’s patients to opt. for this highly advanced plus safe cancer treatment process.

Recurrent Tumors Treatment

Proton therapy for cancer treatmentIf any patient is developing cancer or tumor on recurrent basis then in those cases they can be treated very wisely with proton therapy along with a combination of other prominent cancer healing techniques like chemotherapy and X-ray radiation therapy.

In this case, it will increase the effectiveness of these two conventional cancer treatment procedures and prevent the further and future growth of cancerous cells. Means will relieve from the recurrent tumor issue completely.

Very Few Side Effects

The risk or chances of side effects are highly associated with traditional forms of cancer treatment methods such as in chemotherapy and radiation therapy. However, this risk is almost very low with this alternative cancer treatment option i.e. proton therapy. This technique has very few short or long term side effects.

Tumor Recurrence Chances Remains Very Low

One of the common drawback or loophole of treatment procedures of cancer disease that mostly the chances of recurrence tumor issue remain lifelong to a cancer victim if they have developed this health issue once in their life.

However, in the cases of proton beam therapy cancer treatment, this risk remains very low. As of date very less amount of secondary tumor incidence has been noted which makes it a perfect choice for treating this chronic life-threatening disease.

Non-Invasive Process

One prominent reason for the popularity of proton therapy as the alternative cancer treatment technique that with a comparison to other conventional techniques it is non -invasive. The one session of proton therapy hardly takes a minute time which enables its patient to keep continue with their normal day’s activity without generating any challenges for them.

Also just like other conventional cancer treatments it doesn’t cause pain or difficulty during its processing period that is why the necessity of anesthesia application on the patient doesn’t occur.

Beneficial for Treating Several Types of Cancer

Cancer is such a disease which can develop in many parts of the human body. The proton therapy is capable to treat different varieties of cancer developing on different body parts. Some common types of cancer problem that can be cured with this technique include eyes, brain, lungs, prostate pancreatic carcinomas, neck, head, spine etc.

Especially for Head and neck cancer related to human papillomavirus or HPV, it increases the survival rate by ensuring the safety concern. With a comparison to conventional radiation therapy, proton beam therapy has less taste dysfunction for HPV cancer treatment.

Moreover, it prevents the risk of long term side effects which is very common with the application of radiation therapy while treating neck and head cancer affected with HPV.

Similarly, this alternative cancer treatment method ensures the safety of cardiovascular health or heart health while treating breast cancer in women which exists to a great extent with the conventional forms of breast cancer treatment.

It Provides High Radiation Dose

The proton therapy is able to allow or provide very high radiation dose to the tumor due to its precise delivery of proton. This helps to speeds up the healing and recovering time out of this chronic disease.

Very Lesser Risk of Surrounding Tissue or Organs Damaging

As the proton beam therapy assures precise delivery of radiation to the affected tissue or organ so there is hardly any possibility or risk of surrounding healthy tissue or organs damaging. This minimizes the risk of associated side effects which generally occurs with the conventional forms of cancer treatment.

Easily Controllable

The proton beam therapy is very easily controllable which is very important and beneficial for avoiding the damages of surrounding healthy tissue or organs of a tumor. Its radiation doesn’t scatter or penetrate an undesirable portion of the body which is hardly available with the conventional radiation therapy.

Drawbacks of Proton Therapy

proton therapy for cancer treatment

Along with several prominent benefits and advantages, proton therapy also contains some drawbacks or disadvantages similar to any treatment technique. Some common drawbacks associated with this alternative treatment techniques are mentioned below.

Very Expensive

The proton therapy is quite costly with a comparison to other easily available conventional cancer treatment therapies. This is because the overhead cost involved in its processing makes it more expensive than other cancer treatment techniques. As a result, it is difficult for the low section of people to avail or applies for this cancer treatment technique.

Available in Limited Areas

The proton beam therapy even though very effective in its processing but still, it is not as much flourished as the other conventional forms of cancer treatment techniques. Due to its limited availability in different countries, it becomes difficult for every cancer affected person to utilize this treatment technique.

Also, this loophole adds extra traveling cost for the patients which make it a secondary choice for them.

Special Challenges

Some special challenges in the processing of proton therapy such as changes in the anatomy and motion management make it difficult.

It Can Miss Cancer Outside Its Radiation Field

One very prominent drawback of proton therapy usage is that because of its precise area radiation service sometimes it fails to treat small surrounding cancerous cells and metastates beyond its radiation field. This causes to incomplete treatment of cancer.

Side Effects

Similar to other cancer-curing treatments proton therapy is also associated with some complications and side effects. Though proton beam therapy is very safe and effective due to its precise area delivery, still chances exist that it can cause damaging of surrounding cells of the tumor.

Yes, its side effects are not as dangerous just like the conventional forms of cancer treatments because of precise area focus still it can cause some below mentioned side effects.

Skin Rashes or Redness

The treated skin area gets reddish and rashes develop after the application of proton beam therapy which is also known as radiation dermatitis. In some cases, it can cause blisters and breakout over the treated area of skin.


Sometimes the usage of proton therapy causes to develop inflammation over the treated area or over the surrounding regions. This mostly happens in the cases where this therapy is given to the chest area of the body which causes to develop lungs inflammation also known as radiation pneumonitis.

The signs or symptoms of lungs inflammation include coughing, chest pain with coughing and breathing shortness issues. Anyone who develops these symptoms after getting proton therapy must not ignore it and should consult with the doctor as it depicts the lungs inflammation existence risk.

An untreated radiation pneumonitis increases the growth risk of pulmonary fibrosis that is lungs scarring.

Hair Loss

Hair loss is very common side effects out of the application of proton therapy. The treated area or region of the body loses its hair once this therapy is applied over there. For example, after treatment of lung cancer, the hairs over the chest area loses. Similarly, after the treatment of brain cancer, the hairs loss over the head area occurs.


One another common side effect associated with the application of proton beam therapy is fatigue which is also common with the conventional radiation therapies. The fatigue issue gets chronic with the progression of treatment.

Preparation Steps for Proton Therapy

Just like other treatment techniques for cancer the proton beam therapy is also requires undergoing several tests and other preparation processes before applying or starting this therapy to a patient. It generally takes the following steps to undergo this alternative cancer treatment method.


The first step which is conducted in the preparation process of proton therapy is known as simulation. In this step, the concerned patient is fitted with different immobilization devices in order to recognize the best possible reproducible position during the different treatment schedules.

In some cases, a necessity of placing a metallic marker or fiducial marker arises either in or around the tumor for helping the treatment process. It is usually done a few days before the simulation process. The usage of immobilization devices depends on tumor location.

For example, for treating above the neck area one custom mask is placed around the face or in some cases, a custom tray is placed which remains attached with teeth temporarily. While treating below the neck area various customized molds are placed under or around the body.

CT scan

After the preparation of the immobilization device, the second step which is taken for processing proton beam therapy is CT scan or Computed Tomography. This helps to create the virtual or 3D imaging of tumor and other healthy surrounding tissues.

This virtual reconstruction helps the radiation oncologists to understand the actual location of the tumor and normal surrounding structures. It makes their task easy for processing the proton therapy along with ensuring full safety.

Also, this 3D model helps the doctor to determine the safest and appropriate form of radiation technique. This also makes the way of oncologist easier to target the affected region or tumor.

Other Tests

Apart from the CT scan and simulation, some other exams are taken in the processing of proton beam therapy. Such additional tests include Magnetic Resonance Imaging or MRI and PET scan. These tests clear the path of the oncologist to determine the accurate location of a tumor or any complicated structure if it exists.

Mapping of Proton Therapy Centers

Just like conventional cancer treatment processes the proton beam therapy is not an easily available treatment in any country. So before planning for taking this technique the patient or their family members also need to do mapping of the available nearest proton beam therapy centers.

This is also an important factor while opting for this technique. If the centers of this therapy are quite far and very costly for the concerned patient then it can affect their decision whether the patient will choose for it or not.

If a patient finds himself perfect to travel and reach the location of proton therapy center and finds its associated cost including treatment and other costs within their budget then it will be the best option for them to go for this process.


Once all pre-treatment test is conducted and the location is finalized the ultimate step or completion step of proton therapy remains left which is scheduling for the treatment. In general, the proton beam therapy needs to undergone through 20 to 40 treatment sessions.

These sessions take only one or two minutes which is the biggest advantage of this cancer treatment technique as it doesn’t affect the normal days lifestyle of its patient and the patient remains energetic and active for the day ahead.

Also as the proton therapy doesn’t create pain so there is no necessity of using anesthesia during the processing time. However, if this treatment is given to children then for keeping them still anesthesia is provided them so that they won’t obstruct or disturb during the processing time.

When we analyze all the advantages and disadvantages of proton therapy for cancer treatment over the other conventional cancer treatment techniques it is proved superior and effective in all respect. So if you know someone who is looking for the best and safest cancer treatment then must suggest this as it can save someone’s life with little pain.

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