Proton Therapy

Proton therapy uses protons to treat cancer. It is a type of radiation therapy, if given in right doses can help treat cancer. Proton therapy, also known as proton beam therapy, uses beams of protons to destroy diseased tissues for the treatment of cancer. Proton therapy treatment time duration may vary from one day to seven weeks.

Destination & Price

Proton therapy is also known as proton beam therapy that uses protons in radiation beams to treat cancer. Doctors prefer to use a proton therapy alone, or they may combine the procedure with other standard treatments like radiation therapy or chemotherapy or immunotherapy or surgery to destroy cancer cells. A proton is a type of positively charged particle that uses high energy to destroy abnormal cells.

Proton therapy side effects normally include swelling, redness, blistering, dryness, peeling, irritation, etc. If you are receiving other types of treatments (like chemotherapy) in combination with proton therapy, there are possibilities of other side effects.

The reasons for getting side effects from proton therapy include:

  • The size of the tumour
  • That part of the body which is affected
  • Types of healthy tissues lying near the tumour
  • Whether you are going to receive chemotherapy at the same time

There are certain types of cancers that are treated best with a proton therapy, especially tumours near the spinal cord, brain and eye. The plus point is the therapy reduces chances of harming any developing and healthy tissues. The procedure is also used for treating other types of cancers, such as lung cancer, head and neck cancer, eye cancer, liver cancer, prostate cancer, pelvic sarcomas and non cancerous brain tumours.

The treatment time of proton therapy usually ranges from 15 to 30 minutes. However, the time duration may vary depending upon the parts of the body receiving the treatment, the number of CT scans or X-rays done and the number of treatment segments. The number of sessions required depends upon the stage and type of the treatment. It should be known that a proton therapy is given in an outpatient clinic.

Before a proton therapy, your health care team decides a planning process to ensure that the proton beams reach the accurate spots in your body. Planning includes:

  • You are accurately positioned on the table for radiation stimulation. A therapy teams works together to help you lie still with restraints and cushions placed in the correct position. Only those parts of the body are marked which are supposed to receive proton beams. You may either get temporary markings or get permanent tattoo.
  • You are required to undergo computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging to help your therapy team decide the parts of your body that require the treatment and how proton beams will be directed on those parts.
  • After you are positioned on a table still, your radiation team will leave the room and go into another room from where they will monitor you.
  • A proton therapy machines (called gantry) rotates around you while directing beams on precise points on your body.
  • In some cases, a fixed proton therapy machine is used, instead of a moving machine. In this procedure, you are positioned on a table that moves, while the fixed-beam machine stays still and projects beams on your specific body parts. The radiation team sitting in a monitoring room control the movement of your table. The number of times the table moves depends upon your situation.
  • You feel no pain during the procedure. It takes only a few minutes to perform, but you may have to spend 30-45 minutes before each session of treatment starts. Based upon the type of cancer and its stage, the number of therapies required is determined. Typically, it takes five days a week for several weeks for the proton therapy treatment.
  • You may have to undergo CT verification to help your radiographer understand if he needs to recalculate the dose of therapy based upon the size and shape of the tumour and changes in its weight.

Proton therapy is given in an outpatient setting, so the patient is discharged on the same day. The recovery time of proton therapy is quick and you feel no pain from the procedure. However, you are required to undergo periodic testing during and after the therapy. It will help to determine whether your cancer is properly responding to the treatments. The number of scans you may have to go through depends upon your situation.