As with all emerging technologies, the publication of peer-reviewed research papers supporting the validity and effectiveness of proton therapy began modestly. An online search of the literature revealed 818 citations in 1990. However, this is changing: By 2000, the list had grown to 2,496 studies and by 2010, to 6,200 studies.
Some proton therapy experts were asked to identify a recently published paper of noteworthy clinical significance. Here are summaries of three of the studies and brief commentaries from the experts. Here is the paper selected by Torunn I. Yock, M.D., M.C.H. of Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.
“Proton radiotherapy for pediatric bladder/prostate rhabdomyosarcoma: clinical outcomes and dosimetry compared to intensity-modulated radiation therapy.” by Cotter SE, Herrup DA, Friedmann A, Macdonald SM, Pieretti RV, Robinson G, Adams J, Tarbell NJ, Yock TI. (Int J Radiation Oncology Biol Phys. 2011; 81(5):1367–73.)
Study summary: Proton therapy: pediatrics
Proton therapy used to treat seven children with pediatric bladder/prostate rhabdomyosarcoma provided significant dose savings to normal structures, such as the bladder, femoral heads, growth plates and pelvic bones, compared to intensity-modulated radiation therapy.
Proton Therapy was well tolerated in these patients. Five of the seven children had intact bladders and were without evidence of disease at study completion. Although identifying the long-term impact of these reduced doses was beyond the scope of this retrospective study, the hope is that the decreased treatment toxicity associated with Proton Therapy will lead to fewer acute and late complications related to treatment.
“With a median follow-up of 27 months, the late-effect profile of this patient population looks promising to date. Further studies with extended follow-up and quality-of-life analyses are needed to confirm these early findings”, says Torunn I. Yock, M.D., M.C.H. of Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital [LINK: http://www.massgeneral.org/], Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.