Proton Beam Cancer Treatment
Proton beam radiation is an older technology that has actually been in use since the 1950s. Rather than treating cancer with photons, as occurs with IGRT, men are simply treated with a different type of radioactive particle, called protons. Some men have been interested in comparing proton beam to newer and more precise forms of treatment, such as prostate Seed Implants and IGRT.The safety and effectiveness of seed implants and IGRT has been thoroughly studied in hundreds of scientific papers, with superb long-term 15 year outcomes. In contrast, after 50 years of proton use, there is still remarkably very little published data on its cure rates and complications. There are no studies reporting outcomes beyond 5 years after treatment with proton beam. There are no studies showing long-term potency and incontinence rates. This data is critical for men with a long life expectancy. A review of every published study on proton beam radiation shows that patients suffer 20-40% higher cancer recurrence rates, are more likely to develop long term complications, and are at a greater risk of developing new cancers than those treated with seed implants. In addition, proton beam therapy is very time consuming (9 weeks of daily treatment are required), costly (more than $100,000), and not covered by many insurance plans.For these reasons, most major cancer centers throughout the world have decided not to pursue the less effective proton beam technology and instead have focused their attentions on more innovative and successful seed implant and IGRT programs for the optimal treatment of prostate cancer.