Proton therapy is effective in treating many types of cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
Most lung cancers do not cause any symptoms in the early stage. Therefore, the majority of lung cancer patients are diagnosed with locally advanced or metastatic disease. However, some people with early-stage lung cancer do experience symptoms, the most common being:
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The following have been identified as factors that increase a person’s risk for developing lung cancer:
Imaging tests may be done for a number of reasons both before and after a diagnosis of lung cancer, including to:
A recent proton therapy study compared patients with stage III NSCLC treated with proton therapy versus patients treated with X-ray radiation, such as 3D conformal radiotherapy (CRT) and IMRT.Patients treated with proton therapy experienced:
Types of Lung Cancer
Oklahoma Proton Center treats stage I, II, and III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and certain stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC).
Proton therapy may be a good treatment option for you if you have lung cancer, especially if your tumor is near critical structures or vital organs. It may also be a good option if you need concurrent chemotherapy, have had prior radiation therapy, and/or have limited or poor pulmonary function due to COPD, prior smoking history, or other medical conditions.
Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat lung 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. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.For lung cancer, this means that proton therapy can deliver the same dose to the tumor with less radiation damage to the healthy lung tissue compared with standard radiation treatments such as three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) and IMRT.6 Additionally, proton therapy can be used to deliver more radiation to the tumor to improve the outcomes for lung cancer patients.1 This is important because precision targeting reduces radiation to the healthy lung tissues and esophagus, which significantly lowers the rates of pneumonitis and esophagitis compared to 3D-CRT or IMRT. 2
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. Proton therapy uses protonspositively charged atomic particlesinstead of the photons used in standard X-ray radiation therapy. With proton therapy, doctors can precisely target the tumor while minimizing damage to the surrounding, healthy tissue. Unlike standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.
Treatments are usually given five days a week for three to seven weeks, depending on the stage of your cancer and other health factors.
Yes. Proton therapy can be used as a follow-up to surgery or chemotherapy.
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.
Yes. In a study by MD Anderson Cancer Center of patients who received proton therapy with concurrent chemotherapy for stage III NSCLC, the median overall survival time was 29.4 months. This compares favorably to a median overall survival of 21.6 months in another study (RTOG 0117), which used 3D-CRT and concurrent chemotherapy.2
Recent studies suggest that proton therapy is just as effective as other forms of radiation, such as 3D-CRT and IMRT, in patients with NSCLC, but has lower risk of side effects such as pneumonitis and esophagitis (inflammation of the lungs and esophagus).1,2 Proton therapy targets the lung tumor more precisely than other forms of radiotherapy, reducing excess radiation to the uninvolved lung, heart and other mediastinal structures. 3 In a study by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center of patients with inoperable NSCLC, proton therapy reduced dose to normal lungs, esophagus, spinal cord, and heart by a significant amount compared with other forms of radiotherapy. 4,5
The most common side effects from any type of radiation treatment for lung cancer patients are esophagitis and pneumonitis. The severity of these side effects is directly related to radiation dose delivered to the lungs and esophagus. With less radiation delivered to normal tissues than standard radiotherapy options such as 3D-CRT and IMRT, proton therapy is associated with lower rates of lung and esophageal side effects. 1
Many patients with stage II or stage III NSCLC and certain stages of SCLC are good candidates for proton therapy. In addition, select patients with stage I or recurrent NSCLC may be candidates for proton therapy. If you and your doctor are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with a radiation oncologist at our Center. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at Oklahoma Proton Center use many forms of radiation to treat lung cancer, so they will provide you an educated treatment recommendation that is best for you.
Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. Our center has a financial counselor who is dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process. Please contact us if you have questions about coverage.