Benefits of Using Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer Treatment
Prostate cancer is the second most common type and the leading cause of cancer death among American men. It occurs when the cells in the prostate grow and multiply in an uncontrolled manner.
To treat prostate cancer, traditional radiation therapy and surgery are performed. However, these treatments also carry the risk of serious toxicity and negative side effects, such as diarrhea, rectal discomfort, fatigue, and sexual and bowel function problems. These side effects have a potential long-term impact, making it more difficult for people to decide whether to undergo treatment or not.
Fortunately, some centers are now using proton treatment for prostate cancer. Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that can target and destroy the tumor while avoiding unnecessary radiation to nearby healthy tissues and vital organs. It is ideal for treating prostate cancer as it offers very low rates of serious complications compared to other procedures. Aside from this, proton therapy also has the following benefits:
- It Exhibits Higher Success Rates
In 2013, the University of Florida published a study stating that patients who have undergone proton therapy were free of cancer progression for five years after their treatment. A 99% success rate was experienced by those with low to medium risk prostate cancer. Those with a higher risk of prostate cancer also experienced a 76% success rate.
In addition, only 1% of patients who underwent proton therapy experienced major complications. This is significantly lower compared to 28.6% of those who experienced major complications after receiving prostatectomy.
- It’s Painless
Undergoing proton therapy is like getting an X-ray. The protons are delivered through the skin outside the body. The radiation may be stronger than x-rays, but the procedure is typically painless. However, if the cancer has already spread outside the prostate, proton therapy may be combined with other procedures like surgery, chemotherapy, or immunotherapy.
- The Treatment Only Lasts for a Few Minutes
Proton therapy is delivered five days a week for about eight weeks. On average, the treatment itself only lasts for one to three minutes. But the appointment may take up to 15 to 30 minutes from the time the patient entered the treatment room. However, it may also take longer, especially if the doctor is trying to target different areas in the patient’s body.
In addition, since proton beams are expensive, some centers may be using only one machine. So, the waiting time for the proton beam to be moved after another patient is finished may also add to the time spent at the center.
- It Has Little to No Recovery Time
Compared to other treatment options, proton therapy has little impact on the patient’s energy level. Before and after the treatment, the patients may experience side effects like low blood count, nausea, and fatigue. However, most of them can tolerate these side effects and return to their normal day-to-day activities right after the procedure. They say that they are able to get back to work, exercise, and remain sexually active.
- It Is Proven to Improve Quality of Life
According to the studies conducted by the University of Texas, patients who received proton treatment for prostate cancer showed an improved quality of life. A national survey conducted in 2016 also shows that men who were treated with proton therapy have a better quality of life, especially with regards to their urinary and bowel functions.
In addition, more than 70% of patients said that proton therapy had not impacted their overall quality of life. This is probably one reason why 97% of them also said they would recommend proton therapy to other patients.
Proton Therapy May Be the Perfect Treatment for Prostate Cancer
Given all the many benefits and advantages of proton therapy, some experts believe this procedure is one of the best treatments available today. It is as effective as traditional radiation therapy but with fewer side effects and complications. It may be more expensive than other treatments, but it’s definitely worth it.
Aside from prostate cancer, proton therapy may also be used for treating other types of cancer, such as breast cancer, lung cancer, brain and spine cancers, pediatric cancers, gastrointestinal cancers, sarcoma, and more. To know more about proton therapy, feel free to contact centers that offer this procedure.