A cancer diagnosis can be terrifying. The chance of death from the disease is ever-present, and yet many patients report being just as fearful of the the treatments that are meant to cure them. Chemotherapy has gotten a bad rap in movies and other stories, and for good reason. Nausea, headaches, hair loss, etc. are not exactly a picnic. Thankfully, advanced cancer treatment options are available. Many of these are experimental and not as popular in the general public as chemotherapy. Today, let’s focus on perhaps the most promising: proton therapy for cancer.
That Sounds Like a Made-Up Non-Invasive Cancer Treatment. What Does It Even Do?
You may know that protons are the positive charge in atoms, and are unsure how that can possibly serve as a breast cancer cure or prostate cancer treatment. The simple answer is that proton cancer treatment is one of your advanced cancer treatment options that uses targeted radiation.
The traditional method allows the radiation to extend to other areas of your body, whereas proton beam radiation only targets the tumor. Conventional methods are why many people are just as wary of treatment of the disease as they are of the actual disease. What a terrible conundrum.
I Don’t Understand. Why Should I Care About Reduced Radiation?
You may be wondering, “So? What difference does it make?” It actually makes a big difference in terms of your heart and lungs. See, when treating breast cancer with radiation, proton radiation therapy can minimize the radiation the patient’s lungs receive by up to 50%, with no radiation reaching the heart.
The frightening truth is that radiation is meant to kill the cancerous cells, but can also damage perfectly healthy tissues. When using this particular version of advanced cancer treatment options, up to 60% of radiation can be reduced because of how it targets only the tumor.
There Must Be a Catch. Is It Time, Money, Recovery?
Patients who opt for proton therapy start between four to six weeks after surgery or wrapping up chemotherapy, and are finished after about six weeks. Each treatment session lasts between 15 and 45 minutes. The actual time spent giving radiation to the tumor(s) takes just a minute or two.
You may be wondering how many people have elected to receive this type out of all advanced cancer treatment options. The answer is 64,000 people globally, with roughly 31,000 statewide. Those numbers are expected to grow in the coming years.
People are opting for different advanced treatment options because studies are finding that cancer patients do not have to suffer needlessly. There are ways of mitigating the worst symptoms of treatment. Reducing radiation to healthy tissues, cutting treatment times to the bare minimum, and protecting against possible impotence are all worthy advancements.
Cancer is a nasty affliction for many reasons. Treatment shouldn’t be one of them. When your life is interrupted by something so all consuming, it is comforting to know that there are options.
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