Proton therapy can treat brain tumors, breast cancer esophageal cancer, gastrointestinal cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, lymphoma, pancreatic cancer, and pediatric cancers, among others. Dr. Matthew Hall, Lead Pediatric Radiation Oncologist with Miami Cancer Institute, says proton therapy is commonly used for adults and children with brain tumors, because the nerves that control the vision, and the hearing centers within the brain can be spared. "The primary indication for proton therapy is any curable tumor where we can provide significant sparing of normal structures. Breast cancer is actually a very common type of tumor we treat with proton therapy, particularly left sided breast cancers when we need to treat the regional lymph nodes that are in close proximity to the heart."
Dr. Matthew Hall, Lead Pediatric Radiation Oncologist with Miami Cancer Institute, explains a cyclotron is a powerful magnet that helps speed the protons up and deliver them to the patient for treatment, because they need to be sped up to 2/3 the speed of light. He says proton therapy delivers damage to the DNA that causes it to die, but it can reduce the radiation exposure to surrounding tissues.
Dry mouth, difficulty swallowing, stiffness in the jaw, nausea, and tooth decay are some of the symptoms of radiation therapy. Dr. Matthew Hall, Lead Pediatric Radiation Oncologist with Miami Cancer Institute, says those are some of the toxicities they can expect from patients who are treated with conventional radiation for head and neck cancer. He points out the purpose of proton therapy is to significantly reduce these side effects. Some of the side effects of proton therapy are fatigue, headaches, and hair loss around the part of the patient's body being treated.
Dr. Matthew Hall, Lead Pediatric Radiation Oncologist, says at the Miami Cancer Institute the approach has not been to sell just proton therapy, but it has been to identify the best form of radiation treatment for each individual patient. He explains he has a partnership with Nicholas Children's Hospital. "They have 10 pediatric oncologists, 3 pediatric neurosurgeons and the entire care team, but I am the one person they are missing and that's the pediatric radiation oncologist."
Dr. Matthew Hall, Lead Pediatric Radiation Oncologist with Miami Cancer Institute, says in proton therapy, they are one of the most active segments from Baptist Hospital in the cancer program. "Every child who comes to radiation oncology with a curable brain tumor is a candidate for a clinical trial that we have open and ongoing right now." He points out the clinical trial is looking at volumetric changes within the brain, how the brain anatomy changes, and how the function of the brain changes over time as a consequence of radiation therapy.