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Proton Therapy is Better for Treating Children with Cancer

Children with cancer could suffer less side effects if they have proton therapy

(Mirror Daily, United States) – It is known that cancer therapy can be harmful to patients but a new type of proton therapy is better for treating children with cancer.

The new type of treatment works just as well as the traditional X-ray therapy, but the proton radiotherapy has less side effects.

Since real cures for cancer haven’t been discovered yet, most patients rely on radiation therapy for their treatment, hoping it will kill all the infection in their body. However, while killing the cancer, the radiation also affects the body, having many side effects patients have to deal with from hair loss to fatigue and nausea. While adults may be more resistant in dealing with the side-effects, children are more sensitive and less likely to “embrace” radiation sessions.

According to a recent study, this new type of proton therapy, focused on the target area rather than radiating the whole body as traditional photon therapy, presents fewer side effects. The study was conducted on 59 kids with medulloblastoma. This is a type of tumor that appears in the cerebellum. The participants in the study were aged 3 to 21 and have received this type of proton radiotherapy between 2003 and 2009.

All of the patients suffered surgery in which much of the tumor has been removed. Moreover, all of them had chemo before, during and after proton therapy. From the 59, 12 had died during the study from the tumor and another has passed away from a traumatic brain injury.

One of the most significant side effects of the proton therapy was loss of hearing. However, it occurred in fewer patients than it occurs when photon therapy is used. Moreover, the effects this therapy has on cognitive abilities are less severe. Plus, the patients didn’t suffer from any heart, digestive or lung problems, nor seizures or tumor side effects, which are likely to occur with traditional photon therapy.

The hormone levels were affected similarly to how they are affected by photon therapy. Nevertheless, it is quite clear that proton therapy has fewer side effects than photon therapy while proving to be as effective as traditional radiation. The main reason is probably that it only targets the affected area of the body or brain, without going through the entire body.

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