Proton beams in radiation therapy

Journal of the National Cancer Institute
Herman Suit, M Urie

Abstract

The rationale for study of proton radiation therapy is that, for some anatomic sites and tumors, the treatment volume is smaller; i.e., there is less irradiation of nontarget tissue while the target is included in three dimensions at each treatment session. As a result, the dose to the target can be raised. The consequence is that the tumor control probability improves and the frequency and severity of treatment-related morbidity decrease. These results come about from the physical fact that the proton range in tissue is finite; in comparison, absorption of photons is an exponential function and, hence, some dose is received for the full-beam path through the body. Accordingly, the dose deep to the target for proton treatments can be zero for each beam path. This situation provides a virtually certain means of improving the treatment outcome for selected categories of patients. Experience to date with proton radiation therapy has been quite limited. As of June 1991, the total number of proton radiation-treated patients was 11,763 from the various centers. Of that number, approximately 46% and 32% have been treated for small benign intracranial lesions (principally pituitary adenomas and arteriovenous malformations) and for tumo...Continue Reading

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