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Comparative Effectiveness and Safety of Radiotherapy Treatments for Head and Neck Cancer

Slide: 14 of 36

Proton Beam Therapy

Photons (as used in 2DRT, 3DCRT, and IMRT) spare the skin and deposit the dose along their entire path until the beam leaves the body. As each beam continues on its path beyond the tumor, the use of multiple beams means that a significant volume of normal tissue receives a low dose. Although proton beam therapy has been used to treat tumors for more than 50 years, it has been used mostly in the treatment of prostate cancer and brain tumors, including those in children. Charged particle beams, like protons, differ from photons in that they interact only modestly with tissue until they reach the end of their path, where they deposit most of their energy and stop. The ability to stop at a chosen depth offers the potential advantage of treating tumors close to critical structures, and with the potential to decrease regions of low dose, perhaps decreasing the chance of second malignancies.