Safer Way of Radiation Therapy

Proton therapy could possibly be a better way of cancer treatment for elderly patients with comorbidity.

Source:JAMA Oncol. 2020;6(2):237-246. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2019.4889 https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamaoncology/article-abstract/2757520

Brian C. Baumann, M.D., from the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania, and his colleagues conducted a study that also evaluated the occurrence of severe side effects in cancer patients treated with chemotherapy and radiation during the 90-days treatment period. Their analysis of the effects of proton therapy on cancer was published in late December 2019 in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Oncology).

The results showed: patients who received proton therapy had almost the same success rate as those who received conventional radiation therapy, but the risk of severe side effects was 66.7% lower than those who received conventional radiation therapy.

The researchers believe that the study has three important implications for future research:

First, the observed low toxicity of proton therapy has the potential to offset its higher upfront costs by reducing the number of hospitalizations, medical costs associated with side effects or complications, and healthcare personnel labor costs.

Secondly, this lower toxicity provides an opportunity to combine proton therapy with intensified systemic treatment or dose-escalated radiation therapy, thereby improving survival rates.

Third, proton therapy can enable elderly, and more severe patients to receive the most effective combination therapy.

The researchers conclude: Proton therapy has the potential to be a safer way to deliver systemic treatment and/or higher doses of radiation therapy, and to improve treatment survival rates.

Actual data also suggests that proton therapy could possibly be a better way of cancer treatment for elderly patients with comorbidity, with fewer side effects. Although more research is needed, this study already provides some excellent information.