Proton therapy to treat pediatric cancers
The largest consensus on the advantage of proton over conventional radiotherapy is in the field of pediatric oncology. Given the 70-80% survival rate and long life expectancy, finding forms of radiation therapy that have a positive impact on the quality of life of children undergoing cancer treatment has increasingly become a focal point among pediatric oncologists. Clinical outcome data show that proton therapy provides an effective means to achieve this end.
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Growing interest and implementation of proton therapy for pediatric cancers
Dr Indelicato is the Associate Professor of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Florida. He is in charge of the University of Florida Pediatric Proton Program, currently the largest program of its kind in the world. When asked about proton therapy's role in pediatric oncology today, Dr Indelicato is very enthusiastic: "In some tumors, it allows us to improve the cure rate through dose escalation, while in other cases the clinical benefits lie in the reduced radiation toxicity. CT and MRI-based image guidance are imminent and will bring proton therapy on par with image guidance on linear accelerators. Proton delivery will become increasingly efficient".
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Frequently asked questions
The benefits of proton therapy for pediatric cancers are significant and include little radiation behind the tumor, a lower dose per treatment, a reduced risk of side effects, a better quality of life and a lower risk of secondary cancers.
The reduction of complications has become a focus when improving cancer therapies to children. As there is no exit dose with proton beam therapy, the dose directed into surrounding healthy tissues is limited, with less toxicity and less risk of developing long-term side effects.