Proton beam therapy shows efficacy in treating childhood brain cancer

2 February 2016

A new study has underlined the potential benefits of proton beam therapy as a means of treating childhood brain cancer.

Conducted at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the study saw a total of 59 patients aged three to 21 enrolled, with 55 patients having the tumour partially or completely removed through surgery. All of them additionally received chemotherapy.

At three years after treatment, the progression-free survival rate was 83 per cent, dropping to only 80 per cent at five years.

Although the treatment was associated with some negative outcomes related to hearing, endocrine system and neurocognitive functions, other late effects common in photon-treated therapy - such as cardiac, pulmonary and gastrointestinal toxic effects - were absent.

The authors concluded: "Our findings suggest that proton radiotherapy seems to result in an acceptable degree of toxicity and had similar survival outcomes to those achieved with photon-based radiotherapy."

Two UK centres for proton beam therapy are currently being planned for Manchester and London and are due to open in 2018.

Posted by Philip Briggs


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