Text Proton Therapy In accordance to the American Cancer Society, lung cancer is the number one cause of cancer death among both men and women. Though early-stage lung cancer may be usually treated with surgery, patients with inoperable lung cancer are subjected to a radiation therapy. Japanese scientists assert that proton beam therapy is not only safe and effective, but also superior to other conventional treatments for Stage I inoperable non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients.

Proton beam therapy is apparently a specialized type of external beam radiation therapy employing focused radiation beams to target a well-defined tumor. This therapy probably depends on detailed imaging, computerized three-dimensional treatment planning and accurate treatment setup to deliver the radiation dose with extreme accuracy. During the investigation, authors aimed to determine whether proton therapy is better than conventional external beam radiation therapy and stereotactic body radiation therapy for inoperable NSCLC patients.

Hidetsugu Nakayama, M.D., Ph.D., lead author of the study and a physician at the Proton Medical Research Center in Tennoudai, Tsukuba, Ikbaraki, Japan, added, “Proton beam therapy is safe and effective, if not superior to other nonsurgical modalities, for treating patients with inoperable Stage I NSCLC. The randomized clinical trial that compares proton beam therapy with stereotactic body radiotherapy is needed to clarify survival benefit.”

While conducting the study, patients were treated with proton beam therapy from November 2001 to July 2008. Different doses were provided to peripherally located tumors and centrally located tumors. On completion of two years, progression-free survival rates for those doses were 88.7 percent in stereotactic body radiotherapy and 97 percent among conventional radiotherapy. Stereotactic body radiotherapy reported a survival rate of 54.7 percent at two years. On the other hand, after five years the survival rates for conventional radiotherapy seemingly ranged from 6 to 31.4 percent.

The study is published in the October issue of the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, the official journal of the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).