Proton therapy for brain tumors is generally recommended because of the tumor’s proximity to delicate and vitally important normal tissues and structures. What’s more, primary brain cancer tumors generally start – and stay – in the brain, making them more frequently eligible for proton therapy.
Because proton therapy is so precise, brain cancer treatment with proton therapy allows for highly effective and potentially higher doses of radiation to target brain cancer, with less injury to surrounding tissues, decreasing the risk of new neurological deficits, hormonal deficiencies, or intellectual impairment, maximizing tumor control while minimizing collateral damage and treatment effects.
About Brain Tumors and Brain Cancer
Tumors in the brain can be cancerous or non-cancerous (benign). Benign tumors most commonly stem from the meninges (layers of tissue that cover the brain), from nerve sheaths (layer surrounding nerves), or from the pituitary gland. Meanwhile, although malignant brain tumors may also originate from these same tissues, they more commonly arise from glial cells (both neuronal supportive tissues) and are named according to their cell of origin such as astrocytomas, oligodendroglioma, and ependymomas. These brain cancer tumors vary in their malignancy, from grade I (least aggressive) to grade IV (most aggressive).
While some brain tumors, particularly benign tumors, may be treated with surgery alone, most tumors are not cured with surgery alone and require a combined approach of surgery to remove as much tumor as can be safely achieved followed by radiation therapy to eradicate the remaining cancer cells. Chemotherapy may also be recommended in certain cases.
When radiation is indicated, proton therapy can be an effective treatment with fewer side effects. Brain tumors treated include:
- Low Grade Gliomas
- Pineal Tumors
- Germ Cell Tumors
- Embryonal Tumors
- CNS Primitive Neuroectodermal Tumor (PNET)
- Atypical Teratoid/Rhabdoid Tumor
- Sellar Tumors
- Pituitary Tumors
A Confident Choice: Proton Therapy for Brain Cancer Treatment
In cases where radiation is indicated to treat a brain tumor, proton therapy may often be the ideal treatment option. Different brain tumors require different doses of radiation for control and eradication. Like any other organ in the body, the brain can only tolerate a limited amount of radiation. Because high doses of radiation can damage normal tissue, image-based radiation planning is used to deliver high doses of proton radiation to the tumor with the lowest possible dose to the nearby normal tissues. With proton therapy, highly precise beams of protons eliminate the “exit doses” characteristic of traditional radiation treatments, so the protons target only the site of the brain tumor, sparing other parts of the brain.
To learn more about the possibilities and benefits of proton treatment for brain cancer patients, contact the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute today.