Proton therapy lowers risk of side effects in cancer patients

Proton therapy leads to a significantly lower risk of side effects severe enough to lead to unplanned hospitalizations for cancer patients when compared with traditional radiation, while cure rates between the two groups are almost identical. The findings come from an expanded analysis of the largest review of its kind, performed by researchers in the Perelman School of Medicine to evaluate whether or not patients undergoing radiation therapy at the same time as chemotherapy experienced serious adverse events within 90 days. Researchers found proton therapy reduces the relative risk of these side effects by two-thirds. JAMA Oncology published the findings.

The particle accelerator, which sends protons down a beamline as long as a football field through three-story-high gantries, delivers the most cutting-edge proton therapy there is.

“This is exciting because it shows that proton therapy offers a way for us to reduce the serious side effects of chemo-radiation and improve patient health and wellbeing without sacrificing the effectiveness of the therapy,” says the study’s lead author Brian Baumann, an adjunct assistant professor of radiation oncology at Penn and an assistant professor of radiation oncology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

“We know from our clinical experience that proton therapy can have this benefit, but even we did not expect the effect to be this sizeable,” says senior author James Metz, chair of Radiation Oncology, leader of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn, and a member of Penn’s Abramson Cancer Center.

Read more at Penn Medicine News.