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Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer: Assessing Long-Term Results

Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer: Assessing Long-Term Results

The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 233,000 new cases and more than 29,000 deaths from prostate cancer in 2014. Although the disease can be serious, most men will not die from it. More than 2.5 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today. The disease can be managed with a variety of treatments, including watchful waiting, chemotherapy, surgery, brachytherapy, and external beam radiation therapy (EBRT) that is delivered with x-rays or protons. “Treatment selection for prostate cancer is dependent on the extent of the disease, the patient’s overall medical condition, and patient preferences,” says Nancy P. Mendenhall, MD. “Ideally, the goal is to find a treatment that will be highly effective and avoid toxicities.” The Role of Protons Radiation therapy is used in two-thirds of cancer patients and is most often delivered with EBRT, a radiation therapy that is produced from a source external to the body. The most common source of radiation in EBRT is x-rays (photons). Most x-ray-based EBRT procedures use sophisticated techniques, such as intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), but there is growing interest in protons as a radiation source. “With proton therapy, a lower radiation dose is deposited in normal non-targeted tissues than with x-rays,” explains Dr. Mendenhall. “This has the potential to reduce toxicity, improve quality of life, and decrease risks for second malignancies. Reducing radiation doses to normal tissues may also permit shorter, less expensive treatment schedules, making proton therapy more convenient for patients.” Recent studies have shown that men with prostate cancer who are treated with proton...
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