What is Proton Therapy

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3-Field H&N Treatment Technique

3-Field H&N Treatment Technique

The use of proton therapy in treating complicated head and neck cancers that involve multiple dose levels and bi-lateral neck irradiation (radiation from two sides) poses a challenge in maximizing the potential benefits of proton therapy. Proton therapy is a good option for head and neck cancers because its precision spares healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, which in these cases may be spine, brain, eye, and face. Ideally the challenge of multiple doses and directions is solved using pencil beam scanning, in which a precise, narrow beam of protons “paints” the entire tumor. Pencil beam scanning is the most advanced and innovative form of proton therapy, and further increases the benefits of proton therapy’s ability to spare more healthy tissues.

Our Medical Physics and Dosimetry teams worked with our physicians to develop a robust 3-field treatment technique that uses pencil beam scanning in treating head and neck cancers to overcome these challenges. This technique offers superior dose distribution and other proton therapy centers are interested in adopting this technique. In addition, the clinical workflow in treatment planning and delivery surrounding the 3-field technique has also been optimized. The technique was presented at the Particle Therapy Cooperative Group – North America (PTCOG-NA) Head and Neck Symposium in Arizona in 2015 by Tony Wong, PhD, Director of Medical Physics & Dosimetry.