• By Jeff Olsen

Mayo Clinic Minute: Proton beam therapy bolsters cancer treatment

October 7, 2016

illustration of proton beam therapy on a tumorProton beam therapy is making treatment of complicated cancer tumors safer and more efficient.

"What we’re finding is we can be more precise with our radiation," says Dr. Nadia Laack, radiation oncologist at Mayo Clinic.

Traditional radiation uses X-rays, which go all the way through the body. Proton therapy delivers radiation to a tumor using beams of proton particles that can be stopped at a specified depth after delivering energy to a target.

Dr. Laack says the precision of proton therapy and its ability to avoid harming healthy tissue is especially important in treating young patients and adults with tumors near vital structures.

"For example, women with left-sided breast cancer," Dr. Laack explains. “With traditional radiation, these women had a higher risk for heart issues over their lifetime, because of exposure to the radiation. With protons, we can nearly-eliminate that dose to the heart and make left-sided breast cancer treatment safer.

In this Mayo Clinic Minute, Dr. Laack offers more details on how protons are used to treat cancer tumors. Jeff Olsen reports.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg (0:57) is in the downloads. Read the script.

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