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Proton Therapy for Recurrent Cancer
Cancer recurrence can happen if the first cancer treatment did not completely destroy all cancer cells in the primary cancer. This does not mean the cancer was treated insufficiently, but rather that some cancer cells were resistant and survived the treatment. These cells developed into detectable tumors over time. Ongoing innovations and medical advancements in cancer treatment, such as proton therapy, offer hope to patients with recurrent cancer. Proton therapy delivers high doses of radiation directly to tumors, eliminating cancer cells while minimizing exposure to non-targeted, healthy tissue.
Benefits of Proton Therapy for Cancer Recurrence
Proton therapy involves targeted proton beams that can deliver high doses of radiation to destroy cancerous cells. Proton Therapy may be beneficial for several recurrent cancer types, including cancers of the brain, head and neck, lung, and breast, as well as gastrointestinal, genitourinary, and gynecologic cancers.
Notable benefits of proton therapy for cancer recurrence:
- The high-energy, precisely-targeted proton beams can deliver high doses of radiation to destroy cancerous cells.
- Because proton treatment is a highly precise form of radiation therapy, it is sometimes used as a targeted therapy for recurrent cancer tumors that have already been treated with radiation.
- Proton treatment for recurrent cancer may reduce side effects, helping patients maintain their current quality of life during and after treatment.
Only a few centers in the country offer an advanced technology called pencil-beam scanning – and Texas Center for Proton Therapy is one of them. Pencil-beam scanning is ideal for patients with tumors in sensitive areas because it uses an ultra-fine proton beam with pencil-point precision to delicately apply the radiation to the sensitive area.
Dr. Andrew Lee, the first physician to use pencil-beam scanning in North America, explains this type of proton therapy treatment.
Texas Center for Proton Therapy offers step-by-step support to our patients and their caregivers throughout their journey. From our media lounge, to our children’s play area, to our advanced equipment, learn more about what we have to offer as we take you on a brief tour of our 63,000-square-foot facility.
Your Initial Consultation
The first step to determine if you are a proton therapy candidate is to schedule an initial consultation. Your doctor can make a referral, or you can make an appointment yourself by calling 469-513-5500.
Prior to your visit, a member of Texas Center for Proton Therapy’s care team will call to discuss what to expect and bring. You will meet with a physician, who will determine if proton therapy is the right cancer treatment for you. If you qualify for treatment, you will get all the information you need to make your proton treatment as smooth as possible.
If you are traveling from out of town, the Patient Support Services staff can help you arrange travel and lodging. Learn more what to expect for your first appointment.
The CT Simulation
If you are a candidate for proton therapy treatment, you will receive a CT simulation. This process may happen on your initial consultation day or be scheduled for later, depending on your unique circumstances. Used for treatment planning, a CT simulation is an imaging process done before treatment to determine the exact location, shape, and size of the tumor.
The Treatment Process
Your physician and nursing staff will provide instructions for your first proton therapy treatment. Timing and duration varies depending on the patient and type of cancer. A typical cycle includes daily treatments, Monday through Friday, for six to eight weeks.
Cancer recurrence happens when cancer returns after treatment and after a period when no cancer could be detected. The timeframe of recurrence can vary. Cancer may return where it previously occurred or in another part of the body.
Recurrent cancers can be referred to as local recurrence, regional recurrence, or distant recurrence.
- Cancer recurrence at the original site is called local recurrence.
- Regional recurrence refers to tumors developing in lymph nodes or tissues near the site of the first cancer.
- Distant recurrence is when cancer spreads far from its original site.
When treatment ends, your physician may outline specific signs or symptoms of recurrence to watch for. A follow-up care plan, including regular visits and screenings, will monitor your health for any unexpected changes. Report any symptoms to your physician immediately.
Patients suspecting cancer recurrence should communicate with their oncologist about any symptoms they experience. As with a primary cancer, treatments for a recurrent cancer can be used to control and eliminate cancer as well as manage pain and side effects. Participating in a clinical trial may also be an option. Treatment for recurring cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, proton therapy, chemotherapy, or biological therapy.
Treatment Option Considerations
- Type of cancer
- Location of recurrence
- Patient’s general health and age
- Timing of recurrence
- Extent of the spread of the cancer
- Patient’s values and wishes
- Treatment tolerance
- Potential side effects
Learn how proton therapy differs from traditional radiation and why it may be a viable cancer treatment option for you or a loved one.