LONDON, Ky. — Cancer has impacted and claimed the lives of millions of individuals, often leaving researchers and health care providers searching for answers and fighting for a substantial cure.
Of the estimated 1.47 million Americans who will be diagnosed with cancer in 2009, 60 to 75 percent will undergo radiation therapy for their disease. In select cities around the country, some of these patients who are hoping to improve their odds for a cure and minimize the long-term adverse effects of radiation therapy will be treated with a form of it called proton therapy.
Public interest in proton therapy has grown substantially since the FDA approved it in 2001. However, there is concern among members of the medical and research communities that enthusiasm for this promising therapy may be getting ahead of the research.
“Proton therapy has wonderful potential as a treatment for some cancers,” said Dr. Kevin Camphausen, chief of NCI’s Radiation Oncology Branch, who has referred patients to be evaluated for the treatment when he felt it might work well for their tumor type. “But I don’t think its use should become widespread until we can validate where it’s needed, and where it has the greatest potential benefit for patients.”
The first proton accelerator dedicated to medicine opened at Loma Linda University in California in 1990. Today, a total of seven proton therapy centers in the United States are treating patients and numerous others are under construction or in the planning phase. The treatment is being used most often in children with many cancer types, as well as in adults who have small, well-defined tumors in organs such as the prostate, brain, head, neck, bladder, lungs, or the spine. Proton therapy centers are continuing to test its use for additional cancers – this was posted in September 2009
Source: National Cancer Institute