Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is covering new clinical indications and is improving the outcomes of breast and pediatric tumors.
Proton APBI for breast cancer : quicker and less costly
Accelerated partial breast irradiation (APBI) with proton therapy may benefit breast cancer patients more than whole breast irradiation (WBI) in terms of cost and duration, according to the University of Texas MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center.
These findings, titled « Initial Clinical Experience Using Protons for Accelerated Partial-Breast Irradiation: Longer-term Results » were presented at the annual meeting of the Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group by Dr. Valentina Ovalle and Eric A. Strom.
“It is often suggested that trials of proton APBI are irrelevant due to the modality’s presumed high cost, but our data shows that this perception is false,” said Dr. Ovalle. Her team of researchers conducted a cost analysis based on typical characteristics of breast cancer patients receiving 8 different types of partial and WBI therapies (representing 98% of treatment options open to these patients).
“The findings counter the presumption that proton APBI is so expensive that even excellent clinical results would be immaterial. If the payment barrier for proton therapy is removed so that current and future research can proceed, the outcomes may ultimately benefit patients, physicians and insurers: better treatments at lower costs.”, said Dr. Ovalle. These benefits would be welcomed by the nearly 250,000 patients diagnosed with invasive breast cancer annually.
More children treated with PT
The number of children suffering from brain and spinal cancers who were treated with proton therapy in the U.S. rose to 36% since 2010, according to a study released on October 28, 2014 at the first annual meeting of the PTCOG.
The study, called « Pediatric Proton Therapy in the United States: Patterns of Care », reveals that the number of children treated at U.S. proton therapy centers continues to rise each year.
Proton therapy offers tremendous advantages in treating certain pediatric cancers compared to conventional radiation, which has been associated with long-term neurocognitive deficits. As it uses high speed particles that can be more precisely conformed to the tumor, PT allows for a decreased radiation dose outside the tumor, which is especially critical for children since the risk of secondary, radiation-induced tumors may reach 25% in long term survivors treated with conventional radiotherapy.
According to the survey, in 2013, the average pediatric proton patient was less than 10 years old, with a curable brain tumor or axial sarcoma. At 3 of the 4 largest pediatric programs, medulloblastoma was the most common tumor treated. The survey reports that 722 children and adolescents were treated with proton radiation at eleven proton therapy centers in the U.S. in 2013. Of those, 22% of the patients originated outside the U.S.
New hope for recurrent breast cancer patients
In 2014, more than 200,000 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the United States, and about 40,000 of them will die, according to the American Cancer Society.
Robin Baird was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. She thought it was over after chemotherapy and radiation, but she found a new lump in 2003. After another course of treatment, the cancer came back in 2005. As it was wrapped around her artery and nerves, radiation therapy was ruled out. The same happened again in 2007, and in 2011. It was managed with medication until 2013, when it started to grow. At this point, Robin’s doctors had exhausted all surgical and chemotherapy options.
It was at this time that she was introduced to Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy, which provides patients with an advanced and highly precise form of radiation treatment that can be particularly effective in cancers located on or near vital organs, such as the heart in the case of left breast cancer.
While undergoing treatment, Robin found refuge at SCCA Proton Therapy, A ProCure Center. She did experience some painful side-effects due to nerve damage from her previous treatments, but she was able to complete all proton therapy treatments and her outlook is good. Robin now seeks to share her experience of proton therapy with others.