In addition to the therapies applied in our center established forms of therapy with reliable long-term results from international studies, treatments are also used in other clinics whose efficacy is not or not yet sufficiently proven or whose long-term side effects are unknown. This also includes proton therapy.
Tumor is bombarded with protons
In contrast to radiation therapy, which uses electromagnetic radiation (photons), proton therapy "shoots" hydrogen atom nuclei (protons) at the tumor. Using a particle accelerator, the protons are accelerated to about two-thirds the speed of light; that's about 180,000 km/s. They are then able to penetrate just under 40 cm into the body. When penetrating the body, the beam is not absorbed but decelerated. The following applies: The slower the particles become, the more energy they give off. The speed of the protons is controlled so that the maximum energy (Bragg peak) is reached in the target tissue. The ionizing effect of the protons then leads to damage of the tumor cells, especially their DNA. However, a tumor must be "bombarded" several times so that all areas of the abnormal cells are reached.
Long-term data poor - not suitable for prostate cancer
The German Society for Radiation Oncology (DEGRO) sees a great need for further research into proton therapy with regard to tumor control, survival rate, complications and late effects. Only very few findings are available on long-term results and chances of cure. So far, therefore, treatment with protons has been useful only for a few types of tumor - for example, in the skull base region. In the case of tumors - such as prostate carcinoma - where the position of the target organ (prostate) does not remain constant due to respiration and bowel movements, proton beams are not superior to the established and experienced electromagnetic beams. In addition, proton therapy is very complex and cost-intensive compared to established radiation options.
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