What types of cancer can be treated with proton therapy?
Many clinical studies are ongoing to compare the effectiveness of proton therapy with traditional X-ray photon therapy. So far, it is unclear whether proton therapy improves tumor control or reduce side effects compared to photon therapy for most types of cancer.
Proton therapy is typically only used to treat certain types of cancers, including:
- Head and neck cancers, such as nasal cavity tumors
- Lung cancer
- Liver cancer
- Eye melanomas
- Central nervous system cancers, such as spinal sarcomas, chordomas, and malignant meningiomas
- Pelvic sarcomas
- Prostate cancer
- Benign brain tumors
- Pediatric cancers
What are the risks of proton therapy?
Skin problems can be a common side effect of radiation treatment and may include:
The side effects you experience also depend on the location of the tumor. Early side effects, which generally occur during or immediately following treatment, may include:
- Hair loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Eating, swallowing, and digestion problems
- Urinary and bladder problems
Late side effects, which occur months to years after treatment, are usually permanent. Depending on the area being treated, late side effects may include:
- Brain and spinal cord changes
- Lung changes
- Bowel changes
- Lymphedema (swelling of a limb)
Any type of radiation therapy, including proton therapy, slightly increases your risk of developing new cancers.