Shorter proton therapy may treat prostate cancer effectively

In a new study, researchers found that treating prostate cancer with higher doses of proton therapy over a shorter time can achieve similar outcomes when compared with standard dose levels and treatments and is safe for patients.

This is the first study to show patient-reported outcomes for shorter courses of proton therapy in prostate cancer.

The research was conducted by a team from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania.

The shorter course of radiation is called hypofractionation.

Previous studies have shown it can be effective with traditional photon radiation, but proton therapy has a few key differences.

Photon radiation typically uses multiple x-ray beams to attack a tumor target but unavoidably deposits radiation in the normal tissues beyond the target.

It may potentially damage those tissues as the beam exits the body.

Proton therapy is an FDA-approved treatment that is alternative radiation treatment.

It directs positively charged protons at the tumor target, where they deposit the bulk of the radiation dose, with minimal residual radiation delivered beyond the target.

This can reduce side effects and damage to surrounding tissue.

In the new study, the team examines the risk of long-term side-effects from the treatment.

They examined data on 148 non-metastatic prostate cancer patients treated with 28 doses of proton therapy instead of the standard 44 doses.

They found that the rates of cancer control at four years were the same in both groups, with notably low urologic and gastrointestinal side effects from the treatment at four-year follow-up.

The team says that the finding shows that higher daily radiation dose delivered in hypofractionated proton therapy does not negatively impact patient quality of life.

It may help guide clinicians and patients as they weigh treatment efficacy, tolerability, and convenience.

Future research is needed to evaluate the differences between hypofractionated radiation with photon and proton radiation.

The lead author of the study is Amardeep Grewal, MD, assistant chief resident in Radiation Oncology.

The study is published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics.

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