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Proton treatment for men with prostate cancer has created a proven and highly effective alternative to the traditional options of surgery, radiation or watchful waiting.
It may now be possible to successfully treat prostate cancer without the risk of life style changes and activity diminishing side effects commonly associated with conventional radiation or surgery. And, with a track record of significantly less side effects over an extended period, watchful waiting can become a non-issue.
In the most favorable report published so far on prostate cancer patients being treated with proton beam therapy, it was discovered that protons can treat prostate cancer better than traditional radiation and as well as surgery.
A five year study of men with early-to-late prostate cancer was developed by a group of physicians at the Proton Treatment Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in southern, California. The study tracked 643 men with localized prostate cancer and after five years researchers found that the overall disease-free survival rate 89 percent. The findings also showed that proton therapy resulted in as many or more patients free of disease as those cited in published results of conventional treatments.
This is very promising news for prostate cancer patients and shows that we now have a treatment modality that compares favorably, with less side effects, with surgery or traditional radiation treatment. This also validates what people in the field always felt about using protons to treat prostate cancer, said Dr. Jerry D. Slater, co-investigator of the study and vice chairman of radiation medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
The findings, published recently in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, were based on the prostate-specific antigen, or PSA blood test, often used to detect or confirm an enlarged or cancerous prostate gland.
Proton treatment is a non-invasive, out-patient radiation process with minimal side effects Protons have been used for limited forms of cancer treatment for over 40 years, but it was not until Loma Linda University built the world's first clinical facility that all forms of cancer could be treated with proton beam.
The primary advantage of proton treatment is the precision of the proton beam and control of the dosage delivered to the tumor site. The proton beam can be delivered directly to the cancer site with significantly reduced or no damage to surrounding healthy cells, tissue or organs. Other proton centers under development, and the second to open in the United States will be at Mass. General Hospital in Boston later this year.
Since it opened its proton center in 1990, Loma Linda has treated more than 5000 cancer patients with protons. Of that number, about half are prostate cancer patients. Dr. Slater noted that the same results have held up in a second five year study of early-stage prostate cancer patients to be published later this year.
More information on proton therapy for cancer treatment is available by calling 1-800-PROTONS (776-8667). Additional information can also be obtained from the LLUMC Web site, www.llu.edu/proton/ .
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