When I first heard of Proton Beam Therapy, the first thought that popped into my head was “Beam me Scotty” (Can you tell that my Dad & I were huge Star Trek fans back in the day)… but in all seriousness, Proton Beam Therapy is a potentially superior radiation treatment for MOST cancerous tumors because it can deliver higher doses of radiation with little, if any, side effects. And it is typically much more easily tolerated than standard forms of radiation therapy.
Proton Beam Therapy is the most precise & advanced form of radiation treatment available today. It radiates the tumor site while leaving surrounding healthy tissue & organs intact. This type of radiation tends to work best on tumors that are localized & have not spread to distant areas of the body.
- Central nervous system cancers (including chordoma, chondrosarcoma, and malignant meningioma)
- Eye cancer (including uveal melanoma or choroidal melanoma)
- Head and neck cancers (including nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer and some nasopharyngeal cancers)
- Lung cancer
- Liver cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Spinal and pelvic sarcomas (cancers that occur in the soft-tissue and bone)
- Some noncancerous tumors of the brain may also benefit from proton therapy.
The Loma Linda University Medical Center and the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute both have amazing websites that have easy to understand explanations of how this technology works. And this is really amazing…. most insurance providers as well as Medicare cover Proton Therapy.
Although most radiation oncologists know about Proton Beam Therapy, most have also not had experience working with it which makes it difficult for them to advise patients on this form of treatment. Currently there are only a handful of Proton Treatment Centers, including: the Loma Linda University in Loma Linda, California; University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, FL; and MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in Houston, TX. For a complete listing of Proton Therapy Centers, visit National Association of Proton Therapy’s website.
BOTTOM LINE: Advocate. Advocate. Advocate. Just because your doctor didn’t recommend Proton Beam Therapy for you doesn’t necessarily mean that it is not a viable option for you. Do your homework. Learn as much as possible about ALL the different treatment options available for your specific condition. Ask LOTS & LOTS of questions. Discuss thoroughly with your doctors. And if what your doctor is saying doesn’t jive with you, find another doctor!