Proton therapy is a new form of treatment for cancer that has one major benefit over x-ray technology. It is far more precise. When X-ray radiation or chemotherapy is used, it has to be used in major does to destroy the cancer cells. The problem is, without proper information, healthy tissues can also be destroyed.
If the dose of radiation is too high, then the healthy tissues will suffer the same as the cancer irradiated ones, but if it’s too low then the cancerous cells won’t be fully eradicated. Proton therapy is different and acts almost like a sniper sight, where the precise location of the therapy is given and only the cancer cells take the full blast.
This ensures that healthy organs and tissues are spared the harsh effects of treatment while also allowing the full treatment to be given to the infected body parts.
How it works
You probably remember from your high school chemistry class that molecules and atoms are orbited by a number of negatively charged electrons, and protons are positively charged. When protons are fired near an electron, they attract and the electron is yanked from its orbit.
When this is done, the process of ionization changes the entire molecule and damages it, and cancer cells often have worse repair skills than healthy cells, so they die off faster from the damage to their DNA.
Proton therapy can target bad cells that are living in the midst of good ones, and are able to destroy them without harming the good cells. With X-ray therapy, the radiation is simply fired on a spot and the excess can leak and provide some major problems to the rest of the body. It’s almost like using a rocket launcher to shoot a grape, rather than a sniper rifle or something more precise.
Protons, when fired, can be controlled in terms of how deep they go. As they penetrate deeper into the body, they slow down before they come to a stop at the cancerous cluster of cells and release their energy to yank the electrons away and destroy all that is around them.
Then more energy, if it is needed, can be fired down into the same spot without fear of damaging anything else until the tumor is destroyed. Despite the increase in energy, you as a patient would feel nothing.
Proton therapy has been known to have fewer side effects that X-ray radiation therapy, including a reduction in diarrhea, nausea, and allows for patients to have a much better quality of life after the treatment with a greater chance of success.
It’s a rare treatment
Proton therapy is only available at a few specialized centers, due to the complex equipment used and the expense. It is more expensive than traditional therapy, but that is because it works. While you will make more of an investment with time and money, you will also be embracing a better life.
So if you or a loved one is suffering from cancer, please look for a proton therapy clinic near you and see if it can help.