What is Breast Cancer Proton Therapy?


 What is Breast Cancer Proton Therapy?

Radiation therapy will be used in the treatment of many women with breast cancer. Radiation therapy has the advantage of being able to eliminate cancer cells in a precise area. However, it has the potential to harm neighboring healthy tissue in the process.

Proton therapy is a sort of external beam radiation therapy that reduces the risk of tissue damage. If you have breast cancer, this can help protect your heart and lungs from radiation harm.

We'll talk about proton therapy and when it's utilized, as well as answer some common questions concerning proton therapy for breast cancer in this post.

What is proton therapy for breast cancer?

To kill cancer cells, radiation therapy uses high-intensity energy beams.

X-rays provide energy in traditional radiation therapy, also known as photon therapy. These beams travel past the tumor and continue on, causing damage to neighboring healthy tissues and organs in some cases. This can harm heart or lung tissue during breast cancer treatment.

Tissue damage may be reduced if more accurate targeting is used.

The use of protons enables more precise targeting. Doctors can specify a specific stopping point since it uses charged particles called protons instead of X-rays. They can focus the energy beams specifically on the tumor, preventing them from passing through to the surrounding tissue.

As a result, according to a 2018 study, proton treatment may lessen the risk of heart and lung damage. This could be especially beneficial if you have cancer on your left side, near your heart.

Proton therapy may be used to treat breast cancer that is:

·       progesterone receptor-positive or negative 

·       Positive or negative progesterone receptors

·       Positive or negative for HER2

·       Stage 1, 2, and 3

·       triple-positive

·       triple-negative

·       inflammatory

·       ductal carcinoma in situ is a type of cancer that occurs in the ducts

·       ductal carcinoma invasive

·       lobular carcinoma invasive

Who is the ideal candidate for this type of breast cancer treatment?

Research from 2018 suggests that breast cancer patients most likely to benefit from proton therapy over traditional radiation therapy are those expected to have higher doses to the heart.

Radiation to the heart can be increased by a variety of factors, including:

·       having malignancies in the inner quadrant 

·       having cancers on the left side

·       undergoing a mastectomy

·       undergoing radiation therapy to the lymph nodes in the region

·       Multiple therapies are usually used in treatment.

If you have a high risk of heart disease, your doctor may consider proton therapy.

Multiple therapies are usually used in treatment.

Multiple therapies are frequently used to treat breast cancer. 

·       A mastectomy or a lumpectomy are two examples.

·       treatment with x-rays

·       chemotherapy

·       targeted therapy

·       hormone replacement treatment

·       treatment with biologics

Factors that influence your treatment plan

Your doctor will give you a treatment plan based on things like:

·       At the time of diagnosis

·       the patient's age and overall health

·       the type of breast cancer that you have

·       grade of the tumour

·       whether it is a recurrence of cancer, past cancer treatments

How effective is proton therapy?

According to research published in 2017, proton treatment is both safer and perhaps more effective than standard radiation therapy.

In a 2018 study, 42 women who had proton treatment following a mastectomy for non-metastatic breast cancer were tracked for a year. The overall survival rate was 97.2 per cent after almost three years of median follow-up. This is comparable to the results of standard radiation therapy.

Proton treatment for breast cancer has a similar rate of disease control as standard radiation therapy, according to a phase 2 trial released in 2019.

What is the proton therapy procedure like?

Proton therapy is fairly similar to standard radiation therapy in terms of how it works.

The outpatient treatment takes only a few minutes, but you'll likely spend approximately 30 minutes in the operation room. It's commonly given five times a week for up to six weeks, just as regular radiation therapy.

The radiation therapist will determine the ideal treatment position and label your skin accordingly before beginning. All subsequent treatments will be guided by these markers.

You won't feel hemmed in because it's an open machine. The therapist will head to the control room to administer the therapy once you've been correctly positioned. The therapy is painless, but you must remain completely still.

Through an intercom, the therapist may interact with you and let you know when it's safe to move. As soon as it's over, you'll be allowed to depart.

What are the risks associated with proton therapy?

Proton therapy has side effects that are similar to those of regular radiation. 

·       Skin soreness

·       Skin soreness

·       fatigue

According to a 2018 study, proton treatment has a low toxicity profile.

People who received proton therapy had "much fewer" significant side effects than those who received standard radiation therapy, according to 2020 Source.

Within 90 days of starting treatment, 12% of the proton group experienced a serious side event that necessitated hospitalisation. This is in comparison to 28% in the conventional radiation group.

Longer follow-up timeframes and clinical trials will be required to adequately examine long-term harmful effects.

Proton treatment for breast cancer: frequently asked questions

Is proton therapy a more effective treatment than standard radiation?

Radiation therapy, in both forms, is beneficial. Proton therapy, according to 2017 research, may be a little more effective. Researchers may be able to learn more about the long-term impacts of one over the other as time goes on.

Is proton therapy a better option for cancer treatment than standard radiation?

Because proton beams do not extend beyond the tumor site, the danger of radiation injury to healthy tissues is reduced. If you have breast cancer, this can mean lowering your risk of heart and lung damage.

If you have a high risk of heart disease, this is extremely crucial. There is a need for more long-term research comparing traditional versus proton radiation therapy.

Is proton therapy utilized in the treatment of other cancers?

Proton treatment is used to treat a number of malignancies, including breast cancer. These are some of them:

·       prostate cancer

·       brain cancer

·       lung cancer

·       liver cancer

·       esophagus cancer

·       many pediatric cancers

Proton therapy is covered by insurance?

Proton therapy is covered in full or in part by Medicare and some other insurance companies. However, not everyone does. To avoid being caught off by surprise, it's crucial to check with your insurance provider before beginning therapy.

Your doctor's office can help you figure out if proton treatment is covered by your insurance.

What is proton treatment and where can you receive it?

Proton therapy is currently available in many major hospitals and cancer treatment facilities, while it may be difficult to find in other locations. If there is a location near you, your oncology team can tell you about it.


Proton treatment is a sort of external beam radiation therapy that is more advanced. It provides high-dose radiation to cancer cells directly.

It's more precise than standard radiation therapy, so adjacent tissues and organs are less likely to be harmed. Proton therapy may reduce the risk of heart or lung damage when treating breast cancer. Tenderness, redness, and weariness are all possible side effects.

The procedure is similar to regular radiation therapy and is usually only one component of a larger treatment regimen.

Ask your doctor if proton therapy is a good option for you if your doctor prescribes radiation treatment for breast cancer.

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