Sarcoma is often known as the “forgotten cancer,” only making up approximately 1% of cancer diagnoses in adults but about 15% of cancers in those under the age of 20.
Sarcoma forms in the body’s connective tissues that support, protect and give structure to other tissues and organs in the body, such as bone, cartilage, fat, blood and lymphatic tissue. There are more than 70 kinds of sarcomas, but they generally fall into two categories: bone and soft tissue.
Many sarcoma patients require high doses of radiation as part of their treatment, making the disease an ideal candidate for proton therapy. This special type of radiotherapy is used for cancer treatment and can spare other tissue in the body from receiving radiation, resulting in fewer and less severe short- and long-term side effects than those associated with standard radiation therapy.
Proton therapy uses high-energy protons to destroy cancer cells. A machine is used to speed up the protons and painlessly deliver them through the skin and into the tumor.
Traditional radiation is nonspecific and damages normal tissue just like it kills cancer cells. Proton therapy can reduce that risk by only targeting the areas of the body affected by cancer.
Radiation and surgery can increase the risk of a bone fracture, whereas proton therapy reduces the amount of radiation to bone and helps reduce the possibility of a fracture. Multiple studies have shown that patients receiving proton therapy also have better survival rates when compared with other radiation treatment.
It might sound like something out of a science fiction movie, but proton therapy has proven to be an effective tool for combating cancer.