Proton radiotherapy is a form of radiation treatment used for certain types of cancers and lymphomas. A major advantage over traditional forms of radiotherapy is its ability to deliver radiation to a tumor with remarkable precision, sparing healthy tissues. The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center/UC Health Proton Therapy Center is the only facility of its kind locally and only one of about 29 in the country. Innovative research like this is an example of one of the key platforms of UC’s strategic direction, Next Lives Here.
Meier says this investigator-initiated trial is unique nationally and will hopefully shed light on ways proton therapy can be used to further combat cancer and possibly spare patients from some of the associated side effects.
"Breast cancer will affect one in eight women during their lifetime, and nearly two-thirds of women are diagnosed with early stage disease, with most living many years beyond their diagnosis with the side effects of their cancer treatments,” Meier says. “For these patients, treatment has evolved from mastectomy to breast conservation therapy, which consists of a smaller surgery followed by daily radiation to the entire breast over four to six weeks. However, about one-third of women will experience significant skin toxicity—or redness of the skin which can be painful or tender—related to radiation.
“Additionally, the majority of cancer recurrences occur close to where the surgery took place, and proton therapy is able to target a specific area, sparing healthy breast tissue and eliminating unnecessary irradiation of nearby organs, like the heart and lungs. The beam is able to ‘paint’ the targeted area spot-by-spot.”