What is Particle Therapy in Cancer Treatment? Procedure and Cancer Treated

February 17, 2024 Cancer Hub 27 Views

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What is Particle Therapy in Cancer Treatment?

Particle therapy in cancer treatment is a form of radiation therapy that uses charged particles, such as protons or heavy ions, to target and destroy cancer cells. Unlike traditional photon-based radiation therapy, which uses X-rays or gamma rays, particle therapy delivers radiation with charged particles that have distinct physical properties.

The main types of particle therapy include:

  • Proton Therapy: Proton therapy uses protons, which are positively charged particles, to deliver radiation to the tumor site. Protons have a unique property called the Bragg peak, where they deposit most of their energy at a specific depth within the tissue, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue beyond the target area. Proton therapy is particularly effective for tumors located near critical structures or in pediatric patients.
  • Carbon Ion Therapy: Carbon ion therapy utilizes carbon ions, which are heavier charged particles, to deliver radiation. Carbon ions have a higher linear energy transfer (LET) compared to protons, meaning they deposit more energy along their path through tissue, making them potentially more effective at killing cancer cells, especially in cases where standard radiation treatments have failed.

Particle therapy offers several advantages over conventional photon-based radiation therapy, including:

  • Targeted Delivery: Particle beams can be precisely targeted to the tumor, minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues and reducing side effects.
  • Increased Effectiveness: The physical properties of charged particles allow for higher doses of radiation to be delivered to the tumor while sparing nearby healthy tissues.
  • Reduced Long-term Side Effects: By minimizing damage to healthy tissues, particle therapy can reduce the risk of long-term side effects associated with radiation therapy.
  • Improved Outcomes: Particle therapy may be more effective at controlling certain types of tumors, particularly those that are resistant to conventional radiation therapy.

Overall, particle therapy represents a promising approach to cancer treatment, offering the potential for improved outcomes and reduced side effects for many patients. ( Know more about- What is Chemotherapy ? )

What are the types of cancer treated with particle treatment or therapy ?

Particle therapy, including proton therapy and carbon ion therapy, can be used to treat various types of cancer. 

Some of the common types of cancer treated with particle treatment include:

  • Brain Tumors: Particle treatment or therapy can be effective in treating brain tumors, including gliomas, meningiomas, and acoustic neuromas. Its ability to precisely target tumors while sparing healthy brain tissue is particularly advantageous for tumors located near critical structures in the brain.
  • Head and Neck Cancers: Particle therapy is used to treat cancers of the head and neck region, including nasopharyngeal cancer, sinonasal tumors, salivary gland tumors, and skull base tumors. Its ability to minimize damage to surrounding tissues can help preserve important functions such as swallowing, speech, and hearing.
  • Prostate Cancer: Proton therapy is commonly used to treat prostate cancer. Its ability to deliver high doses of radiation to the prostate while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding organs such as the bladder and rectum can reduce the risk of side effects such as urinary and bowel problems.
  • Thoracic Cancers: Particle treatment or therapy can be used to treat thoracic cancers, including lung cancer, esophageal cancer, and thymoma. Its ability to spare surrounding healthy lung tissue is especially beneficial for patients with lung cancer, reducing the risk of radiation-induced lung toxicity.
  • Pediatric Cancers: Particle treatment or therapy is often used to treat pediatric cancers, including brain tumors, sarcomas, and certain solid tumors. Its ability to minimize radiation exposure to healthy tissues is particularly important in pediatric patients, as it can reduce the risk of long-term side effects and complications.
  • Liver and Pancreatic Cancers: Particle therapy can be used to treat liver cancer, including hepatocellular carcinoma and cholangiocarcinoma, as well as pancreatic cancer. Its ability to precisely target tumors in these organs while sparing surrounding healthy tissue is important for preserving liver and pancreatic function.
  • Bone and Soft Tissue Sarcomas: Particle treatment or therapy can be effective in treating bone and soft tissue sarcomas, including chordomas, chondrosarcomas, osteosarcomas, and soft tissue sarcomas. Its ability to deliver high doses of radiation to these tumors while minimizing damage to surrounding tissues can improve outcomes and reduce the risk of long-term side effects.

Overall, particle treatment or therapy offers a valuable treatment option for a wide range of cancers, particularly those located near critical structures or in pediatric patients, where sparing healthy tissues is essential for preserving function and quality of life. ( Know more about- ETHOS Adaptive Radiotherapy with SGRT )

How does particle treatment or therapy work ?

Particle treatment or therapy works by delivering highly focused beams of charged particles, such as protons or carbon ions, to the tumor site with the goal of destroying cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues. 

The process involves several key steps:

  • Treatment Planning: Before beginning particle therapy, a detailed treatment plan is developed using advanced imaging techniques such as CT (computed tomography) scans, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and PET (positron emission tomography) scans. These images help oncologists precisely localize the tumor and surrounding critical structures.
  • Simulation: Patients undergo a simulation session where they are positioned on the treatment table in the same way they will be during treatment. Special immobilization devices are used to ensure that the patient remains in the correct position throughout the treatment process.
  • Target Localization: Once the patient is positioned, the treatment team uses imaging techniques to precisely localize the tumor and surrounding organs at risk. This information is used to accurately target the radiation beams to the tumor while sparing healthy tissues.
  • Beam Delivery: Particle therapy systems use specialized equipment to generate and deliver charged particle beams to the tumor site. Proton therapy systems typically use a synchrotron or cyclotron to accelerate protons to high speeds before directing them to the tumor. Carbon ion therapy systems use similar technology to accelerate carbon ions.
  • Energy Deposition: As the charged particles travel through the body, they deposit energy along their path, with the highest energy deposition occurring at the end of their range, known as the Bragg peak. This allows for precise targeting of the radiation dose to the tumor while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissues.
  • Treatment Session: Patients typically undergo multiple treatment sessions over a period of several weeks, with each session lasting a few minutes. The total number of sessions and the dose of radiation delivered depend on factors such as the type, size, and location of the tumor, as well as the patient’s overall health and treatment goals.
  • Monitoring and Follow-up: Throughout the course of treatment, patients are closely monitored by their healthcare team to assess treatment response and manage any side effects. After completing particle therapy, patients undergo regular follow-up appointments to monitor for recurrence and long-term side effects.

Overall, particle therapy offers several advantages over conventional radiation therapy, including increased precision, reduced damage to healthy tissues, and improved treatment outcomes for certain types of cancer. Get the best treatment for cancer and full body health checkup at the best hospitals, for early detection of cancer.


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