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Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer, which is considered a particularly gentle and effective method because of its physical properties. For decades, it has been used worldwide. With the technological progress and increasing investment, proton therapy is becoming more widely available and for more and more indications.

Proton radiation

Radiation therapy is tolerated better and more precise since it can be focused directly on the tumour tissue to be destroyed. And this is where the protons have a huge advantage: The energy output of the protons after entry into the tissue is low at first and only rises abruptly after almost complete deceleration. A small “explosion” can be set to the exact millimetre. After the maximum dosage has been reached, the effect of the beam abruptly stops so that the healthy tissue immediately lying behind the tumour experiences virtually no stress.

Thus, the tolerability of the treatment is particularly suitable for patients. They can go about their daily lives without being affected by severe side effects. Furthermore, the risk of a secondary tumour decreases significantly as a long-term consequence of irradiation.

Given the absence of proton radiation behind the tumour, cancer cells that were not previously questioned can also be detected. These include tumours near the spinal cord or brain stem, bronchial carcinoma (lung cancer) or multiple metastases. For example, the irradiation of the retina becomes possible without damage to the underlying optic nerve and brain.

Radiation effects

Simply put, the goal of each radiation treatment is to disable tumour cells. Their ability to divide is stopped, the genetic material of tumour cells are damaged beyond repair. This is the effect of ionising radiation; they damage the core and the membrane of the tumour cells.

Basically, any tumour cell can be inactivated by irradiation, however, the surrounding tissue as well. Therefore, an accurate planning is important to ensure an accurate dosage in the tumour, so that the surrounding, healthy tissue is irradiated as little as possible.

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