A recent study published by an international team of researchers examined the safety and efficacy of radiation treatments for patients diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in pleural lining of their lungs, known as pleural mesothelioma. In their study, the radiation oncology experts determined that proton therapy for mesothelioma cancer of the lungs may be a safer alternative to standard radiotherapy using photons to kill the tumor cells in the patient’s organs.
Commissioned on behalf of the International Particle Therapy Co-operative Group (PTCOG) Thoracic Subcommittee, the study outlines that radiation therapy for mesothelioma “remains challenging, as normal tissue toxicity limits the amount of radiation that can be safely delivered to the pleural surfaces, especially radiation dose to the contralateral lung.” What this means is that patients can only tolerate only so much of the radiation treatment to kill tumor cells before the healthy tissue surrounding the cancer also becomes affected.
According to their analysis, the researchers found that proton therapy resulted in more healthy tissue being spared from the harmful side effects of radiation therapy. As compared to photon radiation therapy, patients require a much more dramatic reduction in the dose of the treatment to surrounding tissue, which results in better outcomes for that healthy tissue. The researchers note that changes to the patient’s condition, with respect to migration of the disease to other organs in the body, could present challenges to providing the optimal dose of proton therapy to the patient.
Traditional radiation therapy uses photons, delivering x-ray particles to the tumor with the use of a linear accelerator. The treatment destroys tumors by permanently damaging the cells’ DNA, which prevents them from growing and multiplying as they normally would, eventually killing the tumor. However, oncologists are limited in the amount of radiation therapy they can use, because healthy surrounding tissue can have the same outcomes as the mesothelioma tumors.
Current evidence suggests that proton cells can cause even more damage to the DNA of mesothelioma cancer cells, and while photons pass through tumor cells and can harm tissue behind the mesothelioma, protons release their energy exclusively in the cancer’s cells. This is important, because as the study notes, there is much less collateral damage to vital organs, such as the heart, lung, liver, kidneys, and stomach, surrounding the mesothelioma tumors.
While there is currently no definitive treatment to cure mesothelioma, researchers around the globe continue to work tirelessly to develop a cure and effective treatments that can dramatically increase the prognosis of mesothelioma patients and allow them to live longer and healthier lives.
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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.