Charles Simone, MD, chief of thoracic service in the department of radiation oncology at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn Medicine was interviewed on CBS 3 to discuss proton therapy for lung cancer. Learn how protons are changing the way lung cancer is treated.
Lung cancer is the 2nd most common cancer and the number one killer of men and women in North America. It counts for more deaths that breast, colon and prostate cancers combined. Lung cancer can be treated with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, but targeting that radiation is a critical aspect to a successful outcome. That is where cutting edge proton therapy comes into play.
Proton therapy is a non–invasive, incredibly precise cancer treatment that uses a beam of protons moving at very high speeds to destroy the DNA of cancer cells, killing them and preventing them from multiplying.
« Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy », Dr. Simone says. « When regular radiation therapy enters the body, it travels a certain depth to reach the tumor, treats the tumor, but everything that is delivered goes out from the other side of the body. With protons, we can have the radiation enter the body, hit the tumor and then completely stop, so that no normal tissue beyond the tumor is treated. Collateral damage is thus much more minimized. ».
« Patients tolerate this kind of therapy very well, because less normal tissue is radiated and there are less side effects. Thanks to that, we are able to treat tumors that we could not treat with only traditional radiation therapy. There are still some challenges : with lung cancer, every time the patients breathes, the tumor moves up and down, and we have to account for that, which we do, and we are able to target the tumor very precisely. »