Proton therapy is effective in treating many types of cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
The most common symptom of breast cancer is a new lump or mass. A painless, hard mass that has irregular edges is more likely to be cancerous, but breast cancers can also be tender, soft or rounded.Other possible symptoms of breast cancer include:
Currently, research has determined some of the most common risk factors for breast cancer include:
Types of Breast Cancer
We treat non-metastatic breast cancers that are stages IIII. We treat left- or right-sided breast cancer, after mastectomy or lumpectomy.
Listen to Julie Rosenberger (former breast cancer patient) as she shares her experience
Benefits, Efficacy and Side Effects
Because protons deposit their energy directly into the tumor site then stop without delivering dose to the tissue behind the tumor, patients can receive lower radiation exposure to the heart, lungs and healthy breast tissue than with X-ray radiation therapy. Less radiation to these areas will likely lower the risk of developing heart disease, lung disease and secondary tumors decades after radiation treatment. The benefits are especially important for patients with left-sided breast cancer because the cancer is close to the heart and the lung. They are also very important for patients who have a need for radiation to lymph nodes or a coexisting heart or lung condition.
Proton therapy might be a good option if you:
Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat breast cancer by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. Because X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, it exposes more tissue to unwanted radiation, potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs than proton therapy. Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. With proton therapy, much less excess radiation is delivered to the heart and the lungs compared to X-ray radiation therapy.
Patients often experience mild fatigue during treatment but can continue to be active and engage in most of their normal daily activities. It is also common for patients to experience a skin reaction similar to a sunburn with any type of radiation treatment for breast cancer. Your radiation oncologist can prescribe cream to help alleviate skin discomfort during your treatment.
Similar to other forms of radiation, proton therapy is typically used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy, and can be used to treat recurrent tumors even in patients who have already received traditional forms of radiation.
No, proton therapy does not replace the need for chemotherapy or surgery. Patients typically have proton therapy with chemotherapy or other therapies they are receiving or they receive proton therapy after surgery.
Yes. Some patients are able to have a breast implant placed before proton therapy treatment and some must wait until proton therapy is completed. Please discuss with your breast surgeon and radiation oncologist to determine the optimal timing of your reconstructive surgery and proton therapy treatment.
The time spent delivering proton therapy to the tumor is only about a minute or two, but the entire treatment session may take 30 to 60 minutes. Treatments are usually given 5 days a week for 6 to 7 weeks, depending on the stage of your cancer and other factors.
Most patients do not feel pain or discomfort during treatment. The majority of the time patients spend in the treatment room involves setting up for treatment. Your radiation therapists will have everything ready for you before the treatment begins. You will be moved into position before each treatment using an FDA-approved robotic positioning system. You will be asked to lie still on a treatment bed while your therapists make adjustments. After you are in position, the proton beam is delivered and is on for about one minute. You will not feel or see the proton beam. You may hear some clicking from the equipment around you, but generally, after a few treatment sessions, the sounds go unnoticed. During the actual treatment, your therapists will leave the room and monitor your treatment from a control room just outside the treatment room. Although they are not in the same room as you, they can see and hear you through a video monitor. They remain close by and you can easily talk to them if you need anything.There is no need to stay overnight in a hospital or remain at the Center after your treatment. In most cases, you can go about your normal routine before and after your session. Most patients have few, or very mild, side effects, such as fatigue, from proton therapy. If you do experience any side effects, they can be managed with medications, if necessary.
Many patients with breast cancer are good candidates for proton therapy. If you and your physician would like to better understand the use of proton therapy in your treatment, we can work with you and your physician to schedule a consultation with a radiation oncologist at the center. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you are likely to benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at Oklahoma Proton Center use many forms of radiation to treat breast cancer, so they will provide you with an educated treatment recommendation for your consideration. Contact us for more information.
Yes, there is clinical evidence showing that proton therapy (1) is effective in treating breast cancer, (2) reduces radiation dose to the heart and lung and (3) is well tolerated by patients with low rates of side effects. The studies showing that proton therapy is effective and well tolerated in treating breast cancer are:
A study from University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine showed that the risk of developing symptomatic coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction due to X-ray radiation treatment increases over time after radiation treatment.6 In a study from Swedish National Cancer (the Darby study published in the New England Journal of Medicine), a large case-control study, showed that the risk of ischemic heart disease is directly proportional to cardiac radiation dose received.7 Implications from these two studies are that since proton therapy reduces radiation dose to the heart, proton therapy has the potential of reducing the risk of ischemic heart disease.
Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. Oklahoma Proton Center has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process. They will answer the questions you have regarding insurance coverage.
Currently there are two trials for breast cancer underway at Oklahoma Proton Center:
Consultation at Oklahoma Proton Center
We do our best to have you come to our center and speak with a physician as soon as possible, and most patients are able to schedule a consultation within one week of contacting us.
During the consultation, the radiation oncologist at a Oklahoma Proton Center will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you will benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at Oklahoma Proton Center use many forms of radiation to treat breast cancer, so they will provide you with an educated treatment recommendation for your consideration.
Potentially Reduced Side Effects to Lungs and HeartIn a recent study of women with locally advanced, left-sided breast cancer post-mastectomy, proton therapy showed excellent sparing of the heart and the lung, potentially decreasing the risk of side effects.4
Because proton therapy is so precise, it can reduce the radiation exposure to your normal, healthy organs.4,5 This is especially important if you’re diagnosed with left-sided breast cancer, as the cancer is very close to critical organs, such as the heart and the lungs. Recent studies have shown that patients with left-sided breast cancer are more likely than patients with right-sided breast cancer to develop cardiovascular diseases after receiving radiation treatment. In another large-scale study, researchers found that incidental radiation exposure to the heart increased the risk of heart disease, which is even more reason for you to consider the precision of proton therapy for your breast cancer treatment.
You may be eligible for and benefit the most from proton therapy if you1-3:
Have non-metastatic breast cancer
Have other risk factors that indicate a need for lymph node irradiation
Will be receiving cardiotoxic chemotherapy
Have pre-existing vascular comorbidity, cardiac disease, or lung disease
Have unfavorable anatomy that places normal organs at elevated risk of radiation exposure
However, even if the above characteristics don’t apply to you, you may still benefit from proton therapy. Contact one of our centers or use the Live Chat button to speak to one of our experts.Doctor recommendation videos: Close Watch the video Watch the video Patient testimonials: Close Watch the video Watch the video Watch the video Watch the video Watch the video
Listen to Julie Rosenberger talk about her treatment.Source: Courtesy of WNPV AM Radio 1140 The Talk of the Suburbs Your browser does not support the audio element.