Effectiveness of Proton Therapy in Treating Breast Cancer


Proton therapy for breast cancer

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that starts from breast tissues and it’s among the leading cause of death cancer, after skin and lung cancer. The cancerous tumor cells develop in the breast glands called lobules and ducts, which are responsible for milk production and delivery. Ductal carcinoma is the most common type of breast cancer. Yet, this disease can start anywhere within the breast. Although breast cancer is very common in women, men are equally susceptible to it.

As with other forms of cancer, best breast cancer treatment and possible outcomes can only be achieved with early diagnosis and immediate therapy. Breast cancer treatment often involves several therapies. Surgery is one of the modalities and it can either be a mastectomy or lumpectomy depending on individual factors. The other two are radiation therapy and systemic therapy.

These therapy options can be used separately or combined for effective treatment. In cases where malignant cells have not spread to other breast tissues, lumpectomy is used alongside radiation. The only time mastectomy is encouraged is when cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes. Yet, you still have to undergo radiation, which will cover the chest and the under arm region where lymph nodes are located.

Conducting radiation in the chest region around the breasts is very risky. Both heart and lungs are exposed to harmful radiation that can damage the tissues causing other serious heart-related conditions. That is why breast cancer specialist advice on using a less invasive form of radiation called proton beam radiation therapy.

Proton treatment is a form of external-beam radiation therapy that uses protons to fight malignant cancerous cells. In serious breast cancer cases, doctors choose to use proton therapy alongside other treatments. The proton radiation is delivered through the skin and usually, it is less painful than standard radiation treatment.

One of the importance of using proton treatment is that radiation can be controlled and managed to specifically target cancer cells without affecting adjacent healthy cells. The main difference between conventional radiation and proton therapy is their precision. In that, proton radiation stops at the targeted tissues, whereas radiation in conventional therapy goes beyond the affected tissues. In breast cancer, this means that no radiation will reach the heart and the lung. However, dealing with cancer cells on the left side of the chest is particularly difficult, considering its proximity to the heart.

Getting to know how protons work offers the best chance of administering proton therapy in a more safe and secure manner. If you are not sure whether to have proton therapy after mastectomy or lumpectomy, consulting a breast cancer doctor will help you make an informed decision. After few tests and scanning examinations, the doctor will have a better understanding of your condition, and from there, an appropriate course of treatment can be established.

Finally, while undergoing proton treatment, you can expect to experience side effects such as a headache, skin irritation, soreness in the radiated area and fatigue. Fortunately, some of these side effects are manageable with drugs. Proton radiation therapy gives millions of cancer patients a chance to live a cancer-free life. But, early detection is the key.

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