New study highlights benefit of proton therapy against cancer
Cancer patients undergoing treatment available at facilities, including one in Bedlington, are facing lower side-effects, a major new study has revealed.
A senior British oncologist says the landmark study supports what doctors are witnessing at facilities such as the Rutherford Cancer Centre, which treats both private and NHS adult patients.
The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania formally unveiled the results of the world's biggest proton survey in the current edition of the JAMA Oncology journal.
It expands the initial findings of a comparative study that involved 1,483 patients with various types of cancer including brain, lung, gastrointestinal, and gynaecological cancers.
Of those, 391 received proton therapy – which uses a beam of high-energy particles to kill cancer cells – whilst the remainder had conventional radiotherapy.
Survival rates were similar between both groups, but side effects linked to toxicity were two-thirds lower for proton patients.
Professor Karol Sikora, Medical Director of Rutherford Health, said: "This study shows precisely why the independent health sector in the UK and also the NHS are both investing in proton beam therapy.
"Patients who have conventional radiotherapy may have to live with side effects for years, whereas with protons there are often no side effects. That is the stunning conclusion of this expanded analysis from the University of Pennsylvania.
"In the UK, we are seeing that the accuracy of protons is greater than conventional radiotherapy.
“Proton therapy has a better dose distribution as determined by a planning computer.
"It is game-changing because people with curable cancers no longer have to live with the side effects of conventional radiotherapy, which can be horrendous depending on where the cancer is within their body.
“In the chest, people may suffer from heart and breathing problems. In the abdomen, patients may face constipation, diarrhoea and irritable bowel syndrome.
“For head and neck patients, scarring, dry mouth and problems swallowing are all common."