5 Ways Proton Therapy Treats GI and Colorectal Cancers

Learn more about highly targeted radiation therapy for gastrointestinal cancers

Proton Therapy for Gastrointestinal and Colorectal Cancer 600×375

Patients who have been diagnosed with gastrointestinal (GI) and colorectal cancers often undergo aggressive treatments to treat their cancer. But there is an alternative therapy that targets the tumor while sparing healthy tissue.

Scripps Proton Therapy Center is especially equipped to deliver advanced radiation treatments for GI and colorectal cancers. It is the only facility in the country to have pencil-beam scanning in all of its treatment rooms.

1. Proton therapy treats a variety of GI cancers and colorectal cancers including tumors in the pancreas, liver, esophagus and rectum.

Proton therapy is best suited for solid tumors that are localized, which means they have not spread, are situated near sensitive tissue and require high doses of radiation.

2. Protons deposit their maximum therapeutic dose directly in the tumor.

Pencil-beam scanning technology focuses a narrow proton beam that is smaller than the width of a pencil to precisely target tumors. Protons can be controlled to conform precisely to a tumor’s shape where most of the proton’s energy is released within the tumor.

3. Precise delivering of protons to the tumor spares healthy tissue near the tumor.

The accuracy of pencil-beam scanning therapy — along with protons having a lower entrance dose and no exit dose beyond the tumor — results in a substantially lower dose of radiation to surrounding healthy tissue. This results in less radiation to vital body functions, including the small intestine, lung, esophagus, heart, kidneys, bone and spinal cord.

4. Patients experience a reduced chance of side effects and secondary cancers.

Since proton therapy spares healthy tissue, side effects such as diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and loss of appetite associated with radiation therapy are not as frequent and not as severe. Numerous studies have shown that there is a reduced rate of secondary cancers when using proton therapy as opposed to x-rays due to the lower radiation dose protons deliver to normal tissue.

5. Scientific evidence shows that proton therapy is effective in treating cancer.

Hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles published in the medical literature confirm that proton therapy is highly effective in treating many types of tumors. In the United States, there are currently more than 100 active proton therapy studies, research in which Scripps is taking part.

Scripps Proton Therapy Center

Scripps Proton Therapy Center offers the latest generation of technology in pencil-beam cancer therapy. It is also one of the first centers in the nation to place all of these tools in the treatment center itself, resulting in greater convenience for the patient. The center has a team of physicians and physicists with more than 90 years of combined experience treating cancer patients and is the only proton treatment center in San Diego.