Proton Therapy Offers Safe Treatment Option for Children with Tumors near the Brainstem

October 7, 2013

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Proton therapy can be used to safely treat pediatric sarcomas and brain tumors adjacent to the brainstem, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute.

The results, presented at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s 55th Annual Meeting in Atlanta by lead researcher Daniel J. Indelicato, M.D., Associate Professor in the UF Department of Radiation Oncology, described the results of 313 children who received a high radiation dose to the region around the brainstem and is the largest study of this type ever presented. More than 90 percent of these children treated at UF Proton Therapy Institute since 2006 survived beyond two years and the rate of serious side effects involving the brainstem was 2 percent.

“This study provides important evidence that proton therapy may be safely delivered to our most vulnerable patients with challenging tumors,” said Indelicato. “Whenever a child experiences a side effect from radiation that impacts the brainstem, it is a very serious and potentially life-threatening event. Across our entire discipline, regardless of the treatment modality, pediatric radiation oncologists need more information to identify patients at risk. This study contributes valuable radiation dose parameters to help guide the design of safe radiation treatment plans.”

The majority of children treated at the UF Proton Therapy Institute have tumors in this critical location near the base of the skull and spinal cord. Proton therapy offers an advantage in these young patients, because the developing brain is exposed to less radiation. In addition, proton therapy may limit the dose to a child’s hearing, hormone and vision centers adjacent to the tumor.

The UF Proton Therapy Institute is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization affiliated with the UF College of Medicine, dedicated to delivering state-of-the-art cancer treatment and setting new standards for treating and curing cancer. The cancer treatment facility houses both conventional radiation and proton therapy, and delivers proton therapy to 110 patients a day. For information, please visit, or call toll-free 877-686-6009.  

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