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Proton Therapy: New Center Brings Hope Closer To North Texas Cancer Patients
A proton therapy room.

Beginning late 2015, North Texas cancer patients won’t have to leave town to get proton beam therapy. It’s an advanced form of radiation treatment using energized particles or protons to destroy cancerous cells.

Dr. Andrew Lee is medical director of The Texas Center for Proton Therapy. He launched a similar operation at M-D Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. Dr. Lee talked about proton therapy for our consumer health series Vital Signs.

From Dr. Lee’s interview…

Proton therapy vs. X-ray radiation: X-ray therapy typically, even with high energy, will deposit most of its radiation before the tumor, and will keep on depositing radiation dose after the tumor. Whereas in proton therapy, you may have some entrance dose, but the majority of the radiation is deposited at the site of the tumor and there’s no radiation deposition after the tumor.

What kinds of cancer are treated: Almost anything that can be treated with conventional x-ray therapy is also treated with proton therapy. That includes brain tumors, tumors of the head and neck, lung cancer, prostate cancer and, of course, pediatric malignancies.

Adults benefit from proton therapy, but why children especially: “Largely because their tissue is still developing. So even low radiation exposure to developing tissue can cause a significant delay, not only in the development, but also in the function.

For more information:

Proton Beam Radiation Therapy Fact Sheet 

Proton Therapy – National Institute of Health 

Proton Therapy – Mayo Clinic

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.