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Proton beam therapy seen as the most effective method to treat breast cancer, heart disease

A pioneering NHS trial to determine if proton beam therapy can assist some breast cancer patients has begun.

The first-of-its-kind trial will compare the high-tech treatment to conventional radiation for people with a higher risk of long-term heart problems.

What Is Proton Beam Therapy?

First-ever proton beam therapy has been administered to three breast cancer patients.  The high-tech treatment targets tumors far more accurately than conventional radiotherapy, making it suitable for patients with difficult-to-treat tumors in vital locations.

The NHS has previously utilized the therapy to treat patients with brain or spinal cord tumors. The research, the first of its type worldwide, will compare it with conventional radiotherapy for individuals with a higher risk of long-term heart issues following radiotherapy.

Approximately 500 out of every 30,00 breast cancer patients receiving radiotherapy fall into this category. As an early predictor of possible cardiac problems, scientists will assess the amount of radiation supplied to the heart, eliminating the need for years of follow-up.

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Therapy To Undergo Trial For Heart Disease

Tech-Therapy-NHS-Proton Beam-Life-Heart Disease-Health
A pioneering NHS trial to determine if proton beam therapy can assist some breast cancer patients has begun.

Following surgery, radiation is administered to 30,000 breast cancer patients in the UK annually. Traditional radiation is helpful for the vast majority of patients, but less than one percent of those treated may develop heart problems in the future.

This is typically due to the proximity of the breast tissue and lymph nodes that require radiation treatment to the heart, or because the patient has an underlying greater risk of cardiac problems. Doctors participating in the trial will examine if the therapy can assist deliver enough radiotherapy doses to the breast while minimizing radiation near the heart.

The experiment will enroll 192 participants at 22 locations in the United Kingdom. Patients designated to receive proton beam therapy will be treated at either the Christie or University College London hospitals, with lodging provided for out-of-town patients.

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