Cancer radiotherapy: Protons have fewer side effects than X-rays but are equally effective
Last Update: 2020-06-17
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The study, conducted by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in StLouis and Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, compared the effects and side effects of proton therapy with photonic therapyThe study involved 1,483 non-metastatic, localized terminal cancer patientsAll of these patients underwent simultaneous chemotherapy, with 391 receiving proton therapy and 1092 receiving X-ray radiotherapyresearchers found no significant difference in survival rates and cancer control between the two groups during treatment, with an overall survival rate of 83 percent in the proton therapy group and 81 percent for X-ray therapyHowever, the difference in side effects between the two therapies was significant: 45 patients (11.5%) in the proton therapy group developed severe side effects within 90 days, while 301 patients in the X-ray treatment group (27.6%) experienced severe side effects during the same periodThe difference occurred when the average age of patients in the proton therapy group was larger and there were more medical problemsExcluding these differential factors, patients who received proton therapy had a two-thirds lower risk of developing severe side effectsymptoms within 90 days than those receiving X-ray therapy, the researchers saidbothprotons and X-rays are approved by the U.SFood and Drug Administration for cancer treatmentThe X-ray beam is made up of photons that can pass directly through the body and can cause serious side effects as it passes through healthy tissueProtons, on the other hand, are relatively heavy positively charged particles that stop after hitting the target, reducing the chance of damage to healthy tissueresearchers say synchrotron chemotherapy is the standard treatment for many cancers, and new research suggests that proton therapy combined with simultaneous chemotherapy can achieve tumor control effects similar to conventional X-ray radiotherapy, with fewer side effectsThe findings could prompt radiation oncologists to design new clinical trials to study the feasibility of increasing efficacy by increasing the dose of proton radiationThe findings also provide a better option for elderly cancer patients to obtain treatments they can tolerateThis is all the more important as the population ages.
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