What is Proton Therapy

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Breast Cancer Treatment

According to the American Cancer Society, every year more than 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. For decades, conventional breast radiotherapy (X-rays or photons) has helped save the lives of many women. Despite its great success, conventional breast radiotherapy can expose the heart, lungs, and other organs to radiation. The result can be an increased risk of side effects such as coronary artery disease, lung scarring, and secondary malignancies.
Until recently, patients and the medical community accepted these side effects as a given in order to appropriately treat the cancer. But now there is proton therapy, an advanced radiation treatment that targets the cancer and dramatically reduces excess radiation to healthy tissues and organs.

Advantages of Proton Therapy in Locally Advanced Stage III Breast Cancer

Proton therapy (left, above) has unique attributes that reduce radiation exposure to normal, healthy organs. This is especially important in left-sided breast cancer, as the cancer is close to critical organs such as the heart and the lungs. As the data above shows, patients with left-sided breast cancer are more likely than patients with right-sided breast cancer to develop cardiovascular diseases after receiving radiation treatment.

 

Our radiation oncologists will evaluate each case, but generally, protons are useful in treating:

  • Node-positive breast cancer
    • Triple-negative breast cancer
    • Lobular carcinoma
  • Early stage breast cancer
  • Locally advanced breast cancer (stage II and III)
  • Recurrent breast cancer
  • Select patients who have received previous radiation

SCCA Proton Therapy Center offers a breast cancer clinical trial to qualifying patients.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) allocated $11.8M towards a study that will provide patients and physicians the long-awaited answers to many critical questions relating to breast cancer control and survival. This is the first clinical trial designed to compare the effectiveness of proton beam therapy versus conventional photon radiation therapy in treating certain breast cancers and minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. 

More about the Pragmatic Randomized Trial of Proton vs. Photon Therapy for Patients with Non-Metastatic Breast Cancer Receiving Comprehensive Nodal Radiation can be viewed here. For elegibility requirements, please click here

Additional Resources:

Proton Therapy for Breast Cancer

 

To read a breast cancer survivor story, please click here.

 

Breast and Gynecological Cancers

"I consider it a great privilege to be a part of my patients' lives during the course of their cancer treatment - a time that can be full of anxiety, fear and challenges. I strive to deliver the level of compassion, understanding, patience and medical expertise and skill that I would insist upon for my own loved ones."

Breast and Gynecological Cancers

“Regardless of what we do in medicine: clinical care, education, research... It all serves just one purpose: to create the best treatment for our cancer patients.”

Related Studies

Risk of ischemic heart disease in women after radiotherapy for breast cancer Darby SC, Ewertz M, McGale P, et. al. Read Study
Accelerated partial-breast irradiation using intensity-modulated proton radiotherapy: do uncertainties outweigh potential benefits? Wang X, Zhang X, Li X, Amos RA, Shaitelman SF, Hoffman K, Howell R, Salehpour M, Zhang SX, Sun TL, Smith B, Tereffe W, Perkins GH, Buchholz TA, Strom EA, Woodward WA. Read Study
Accelerated partial-breast irradiation: the current state of our knowledge. Shaitelman SF, Kim LH. Read Study
Can proton therapy improve the therapeutic ratio in breast cancer patients at risk for nodal disease? Xu N, Ho MW, Li Z, Morris CG, Mendenhall NP. Read Study