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Why is reduced radiation to the brain important?

Why is reduced radiation to the brain important?

Proton therapy is a very important option for patients with brain tumors because the brain is such an important organ, and treatment to it must be designed to have as few side effects as possible.

“We prefer to use proton therapy for brain tumors because proton beams stop after they reach the target,” says Dr. Ralph Ermoian, a radiation oncologist at SCCA Proton Therapy Center who treats pediatric patients with brain tumors. “Therefore, the healthy part of the brain beyond the tumor gets less radiation. Less radiation to the healthy brain and body means less chance of side effects in the future.”  

Compared to conventional radiation, proton therapy often reduces radiation to healthy parts of the brain, eyes and pituitary gland. Less radiation to the brain helps retain better overall brain function and reduce the likelihood of future tumors caused by treatment. Less radiation to the eyes helps limit side effects like vision changes, and less radiation to the pituitary gland reduces interference with hormone production.

“Adult patients can also have long-term side effects, including neurocognitive decline from radiation therapy for brain tumors,” says Dr. Lia Halasz, a radiation oncologist at SCCA Proton Therapy Center who treats adult patients with brain tumors. “Proton therapy may lessen these side effects. We are currently part of a national clinical trial that is studying the neurocognitive outcomes after proton or photon therapy for gliomas,

which are tumors that begin in the supportive cells (glial cells) that surround nerve cells and help them function.”

“All pediatric and adult cases are presented to a group of independent surgeons, chemotherapy doctors, radiologists, pathologists and other cancer experts who provide input on how best to treat our patients,” says Dr. Ermoian. This ensures that patients with brain tumors treated at SCCA Proton Therapy Center receive the best possible treatment plan that can help to reduce side effects.

The Proton Center prides itself on both its brain cancer expertise and its caring approach to patients. You can trust SCCA not only to make sure your brain cancer is treated effectively, but to consider your long-term health and quality of life when planning your treatment.

Dr. Ermoian says, “When you undergo treatment at SCCA Proton Therapy Center, you can expect to be treated with the care and thoroughness you would expect of a cancer team taking care of their own family.”