Proton beam radiotherapy versus TACE for Liver Cancer

A recent study comparing survival rates, recurrence patterns, toxicity, and treatment cost in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with either transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) or proton beam radiotherapy (PBT) found that patients treated with PBT required fewer courses of treatment, fewer post-treatment hospitalization days, and reduced cost of treatment compared to TACE.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), or liver cancer, occurs when a tumor grows on the liver. It is responsible for over 12,000 deaths per year in the United States, making it one of the most serious cancers in adults.

Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is an interventional radiological therapy. It is the most commonly performed procedure to treat liver tumors that are inoperable or for patients with liver cancer who are waiting for a liver transplant. Chemoembolization delivers a high concentration of drugs to the tumor and stops blood flow to it. This procedure deprives the tumor of its oxygen supply while delivering drugs to the tumor.

Proton beam therapy (PBT) is a unique type of radiation that has physical characteristics that differ from photon therapy. Proton beams have an energy-dependent penetration depth and deposit most of the dose at the end of their path, called the Bragg peak. By matching the Bragg peak to the depth of the tumor, proton beams can maximize the dose deposited in targeted regions while simultaneously minimizing the dose to surrounding normal tissues.

The study reported that between December 2008 and March 2017, 167 subjects were screened for eligibility resulting in 76 subjects enrolled. Forty subjects were randomized to TACE with 36 assigned to PBT. The results showed a nearly six-fold increase in local tumor control with proton therapy versus TACE. Additionally, there was a significant reduction in posttreatment hospitalization rates with proton therapy patients averaging 24 days versus 166 days for TACE patients.

Oklahoma Proton Center is one of the leading proton centers in the country, having treated over 4,500 patients since opening in 2009. Patients from all over the region have traveled there for treatment for cancers such as lung, prostate, breast, brain, esophageal, liver, soft tissue, head and neck, and more.

“Oklahoma Proton Center has been a leader in the field of proton therapy for over a decade,” said Dr. John Chang, Medical Director of the Oklahoma Proton Center. “This study validates proton therapy as the best option for certain liver cancer patients enabling us to maximize cure and minimize side effects.”

“Our goal is to provide the best clinical care possible for patients, but we also want patients to have an excellent experience during treatment. We want patients to get that personalized care where they truly feel like they are the most important person at the facility while they are going through treatment,” said David Raubach, Chief Development Officer at Oklahoma Proton Center.

Patients or others wanting more information about proton therapy and how it can be used to treat cancer can reach out to the center at (405) 773-7600 or visit the Oklahoma Proton Center website at

To view the full study and results please click HERE

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