When we look at particle accelerators, these were traditionally used to conduct elaborate experiments in the field of physics. These devices propelled charged particles at high speeds, and some medical institutions even use them for producing molecules for PET imaging.
However, these gigantic pieces of medical machinery also have another use – photon therapy for cancer. The medical director of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) Proton Therapy Center in Seattle, Washington Dr. Ramesh Rengan spoke with Devishobha, founder of Kidkintha and author at HuffPost, spoke with each other to dive more into letting readers know more about this medical operation.
The Concept of Treating Cancer
Dr. Rengan explained in the interview that the fundamental concept found in all cancer treatments is to deliver a lethally effective form of cure to cancer. The important aspect about his statement is that cancer treatments should only take action to the cancer cells, and nothing more. May it be surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy, the challenge for oncologists is to design a form of treatment to deliver the healing procedures to the patient with as much specificity to the tumor while minimizing the damage done by the treatment to the surrounding organs.
How Does Photon Therapy Work?
Protons, when injected into the human body, stop within the patient and will no longer pass through the system because of their mass. Hence, we can calibrate a proton beam to stop within the tumor itself in hopes of breaking it down. Furthermore, because protons have a positive charge, these microscopic elements deposit most of their radioactive characteristics to the location where they stop as opposed to somewhere near the area of entry into the patient, which would otherwise be the case for X-rays. Hence, the radiation brought about by the protons concentrate on the tumor itself, thereby letting pediatric cancer patients have a higher chance of ridding themselves of the ailment.
The Benefits of Proton Therapy Over Other Cancer Treatments
Since protons allow radiation to head to the tumor while significantly minimizing collateral damage which would otherwise be caused by exposure to radiation to the nearby healthy tissue, Dr. Rengan explains that the benefits of using this cancer treatment appear in the short term because of the reduced exposure. Hence, cancer patients can even go about with their lives after treatment procedures, and it also lowers the chances of the procedure to affect near critical organs or body structures such as bladder, rectum, brain, heart, or spinal cord.
Photon therapy brings a new light of hope for pediatric cancer patients as their chances of ridding themselves with the ailment increases with this form of medical treatment.