Researchers Gather To Discuss Therapy Alternative For Breast Cancer
Proton therapy evaluated as a treatment option
Radiation oncologists from some of the country's leading cancer centers will meet in Phoenix later this week to discuss the appropriate use of proton beam therapy in the treatment of breast cancer. Proton therapy is a highly precise form of radiation currently being used to treat a number of cancers and non-cancerous tumors.
Recent studies have reported that long-term side effects from standard radiation therapy for breast cancer can include damage to the heart and lungs, particularly in cases where the left breast is involved and radiation treatments "bathe" these vital organs. In many cases, the side effects do not emerge until 10 years or more after treatment.
Proton therapy is ionizing (high energy) radiation and has the same destructive mechanism in attacking cancer cells as X-ray radiation, but because of its precision, protons are able to provide higher doses of radiation energy to tumors without increasing rates of side effects.
"We now know that breast cancer patients treated with standard radiation have a risk of developing secondary side effects," said Dr. Eugen Hug, ProCure's chief medical officer. "That is why it is important for us as a medical community to come together and discuss new therapies and treatment options that can be equally as effective, but spare the long-term damage."
The two-day conference, to be held at The Arizona Biltmore Feb. 8-9, is being sponsored by ProCure Treatment Centers, Inc., and is drawing in over 35 researchers from around the country.
Proton therapy is most often used to treat tumors of the brain, central nervous system, head and neck, lung and prostate, as well as sarcomas and many pediatric cancers. Its precision makes it especially effective for treating children and adults with anatomically complex tumors such as base of skull and tumors along the spinal cord.
Clinical trials are currently under way to evaluate the effectiveness of proton therapy for breast cancer. Physicians at ProCure Centers in Oklahoma City, Warrenville, Ill., and Somerset, N.J., will be opening two trials within the coming months to study proton therapy for women with breast tumors who would be at a high risk for heart and lung side effects. One trial will study women with advanced breast tumors while another will study proton therapy for women with early stage tumors. Additional trials are being developed.
"Proton therapy may not be the right treatment option for everyone with breast cancer, which is why discussions like these and clinical trials are important to help physicians determine which patients can be treated most effectively with maximum long-term benefit," Hug said. "Providing patients with the best possible treatment options is our priority."