This exciting new study shows that "proton therapy" is a stunningly effective noninvasive treatment against high-risk childhood cancers – and it comes with minimal side effects.
Unlike traditional photon radiation using x-rays, proton radiation therapy (PRT) is a non-invasive, precise cancer treatment that uses a beam of protons moving at very high speeds to destroy the DNA of cancer cells, killing them and preventing them from multiplying.
Highly targeted, PRT has significant promise for treating tumors in very young children and may reduce radiation exposure to healthy, developing tissue that may result in lifelong impacts.
Researchers from Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania analyzed the largest cohort to date of pediatric patients with high-risk neuroblastoma who were treated with proton radiation therapy.
Not only did they find that proton therapy was effective at reducing tumors, they also found that it demonstrated minimal toxicity to surrounding organs.
The study is published online in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology.
"These data are extremely encouraging and could be a game-changer for a number of reasons," said lead author Christine Hill-Kayser, Chief of the Pediatric Radiation Oncology Service at Penn Medicine.