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Dr. Phillip Gray, lead author of the study
on prostate cancer patients
treated with proton therapy,
3-D CRT, and IMRT, during a briefing

Proton therapy's benefits for the treatment of prostate cancer on display at ASTRO 2012

by Loren Bonner , DOTmed News Online Editor
The American Society of Radiation Oncology's (ASTRO) annual meeting, held last week in Boston, was a testament to the growing body of evidence supporting proton beam therapy for the treatment of men with prostate cancer.

Several studies were presented at the conference that assessed prostate cancer patients' quality of life and toxicities following treatment with proton beam therapy. All of the studies reported favorable outcomes, especially for safeguarding men's bowel and urinary functions.

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Quality of life

One of the larger data sets presented was a multi-institutional study of 1,090 men treated at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, Scripps Proton Therapy Center, Loma Linda Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute. It found that patient-reported quality of life scores equaled healthy men. Patients, who averaged 65 years old, completed the Expanded Prostate Cancer Index Composite (EPIC) survey up to 10 years following proton beam therapy treatment. Prostate cancer patients scored 89.8 for urinary quality and 92.7 for bowel functions, compared with scores of 89.5 and 92.4, respectively, for healthy men. The survey used a scoring system of 1 (poor) to 100 (perfect).

Another study compared quality of life scores from prostate cancer patients who received proton beam therapy to those who were treated with two other common radiation therapy modalities: intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and 3-D conformal (3-D CRT). One of the main takeaways from this study, authors concluded, was that proton beam therapy appeared to be associated with better early bowel quality of life compared to 3D-CRT and IMRT. The study evaluated 123 patients treated with 3D-CRT from 1994-2000 at Harvard Affiliated Hospitals; 153 patients treated with IMRT from 2003-2006 at 9 hospitals; and 94 patients treated with proton beam therapy from 2004-2008 at Massachusetts General Hospital.

ProCure's findings

While all studies to date on the effectiveness of proton beam therapy treatment have been conducted at academic medical centers, the for-profit chain ProCure, which has been opening centers around the country, has also been compiling evidence for proton beam therapy. The first ProCure center opened in Oklahoma City in 2009, and from day one, it established a patient database and opened a registry study.

Dr. Sameer Keole, a radiation oncologist at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City, presented results from 76 prostate cancer patients who were treated at the facility.

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