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Proton Therapy Safe and Effective Treatment for Children with Tumors Near the Brainstem

By Medimaging International staff writers
Posted on 24 Oct 2013
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Proton therapy can be used to safely treat pediatric sarcomas and brain tumors adjacent to the brainstem, according to a new study.

The study’s findings were presented October 2013 at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s 55th annual meeting, held in Atlanta (GA, USA), by lead researcher Daniel J. Indelicato, MD, associate professor in the University of Florida (UF; Gainesville, USA) department of radiation oncology, described the findings of 313 children who received a high radiation dose to the area around the brainstem, and is the largest study of this type ever presented. More than 90% of these children treated at UF Proton Therapy Institute (Jacksonville, USA) since 2006 survived beyond two years and the rate of serious side effects involving the brainstem was 2%.

“This study provides important evidence that proton therapy may be safely delivered to our most vulnerable patients with challenging tumors,” said Dr. Indelicato. “Whenever a child experiences a side effect from radiation that impacts the brainstem, it is a very serious and potentially life-threatening event. Across our entire discipline, regardless of the treatment modality, pediatric radiation oncologists need more information to identify patients at risk. This study contributes valuable radiation dose parameters to help guide the design of safe radiation treatment plans.”

Most of the children treated at the UF Proton Therapy Institute have tumors in this critical location near the base of the skull and spinal cord. Proton therapy provides an advantage in these children, because the developing brain is exposed to less radiation. Moreover, proton therapy may limit the dose to a child’s hearing, hormone, and vision centers neighboring the tumor.

Related Links:

University of Florida
University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute

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