Pediatric Proton Therapy Study Reveals 33% Increase In Cases Treated
Proton beam therapy does not cause the serious side effects associated with conventional radiation for children with brain and spinal cancers.
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The number of children suffering from brain and spinal cancers who were treated with an advanced form of radiation at proton therapy centers in the U.S. rose 33% since 2010, according to a study released by the Pediatric Proton Foundation (PPF) and the National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT). In 2012, 694 pediatric patients were treated with proton therapy, compared with 465 in 2010 and 613 in 2011. Fifty seven percent of pediatric patients treated with proton therapy in 2012 were less than 10 years old, with a curable brain tumor or axial sarcoma, the survey reports.
“Parents need to understand that proton therapy offers distinct advantages for their child’s treatment over traditional radiation,” said Susan Ralston, Executive Director of the PPF. “As the mother of a young child who was diagnosed with spinal Ewing sarcoma and was able to receive proton therapy, my goal is to help other families by ensuring that they get good information about the options for their children.”
Conventional radiation for pediatric brain tumors has been associated with long-term neurocognitive deficits, including decreases in IQ, difficulties with attention, processing speed and executive skills. Even low dose traditional radiation to glands in the brain may cause life-long detrimental effects on hormone production and growth. Unlike conventional X-ray therapy, proton therapy uses high speed particles that can be more precisely conformed to treat the tumor while sparing healthy tissue and without an exit dose. The decreased radiation dose outside the tumor is especially critical for children since the risk of secondary, radiation-induced tumors may reach 25% in long term survivors treated with conventional radiotherapy.
“It is widely known that proton therapy offers tremendous advantages in treating certain pediatric cancers,” said Leonard Arzt, Executive Director of the NAPT.
“Even with 11 operating centers in the U.S. now,” Ms. Ralston said, “access remains an issue because as many as 3,000 newly diagnosed children might be candidates for proton therapy each year, but we do not have the capacity to treat all of them. The good news is that many more new centers should become operational in the next 5 years, which will allow more children to take advantage of this advanced technology.”
Consistent with 2011 patterns, the survey reports that the four most common tumor diagnoses treated were ependymoma, medullablastoma, low grade glioma and rhabdomyosarcoma. Nineteen percent of the children treated in 2012 came from countries outside the US.
“This data reflects the growing international perception that proton therapy may offer an advantage in children with brain tumors and sarcomas, however, because these are mostly very young patients who require concurrent chemotherapy or anesthesia, the broad pediatric subspecialty support found in a comprehensive medical center environment is critical to safety and efficacy,” says Dr. Daniel Indelicato, director of pediatric radiation oncology at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, Jacksonville, FL. Dr. Indelicato presented the survey results at the Children’s Oncology Group (COG) meeting in Atlanta with his co-author, Dr. Andrew L. Chang, a radiation oncologist at Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, Hampton, VA. Both authors serve on the Board of Directors of the PPF.
A more detailed report on the Pediatric Proton Survey will appear in an upcoming issue of a new publication, the International Journal of Particle Therapy.
The Pediatric Proton Foundation
The Pediatric Proton Foundation (PPF) is uniquely positioned as an independent, non-profit charity that relies on voluntary funding from a variety of sources to be able to provide the most objective information available about pediatric cancer treatment at each proton center in the U.S. Founded in 2008 by Susan Ralston, the mission of the organization is to provide education, advocacy and assistance to families in need of pediatric protons. The PPF is a non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization and gratefully accepts public donations. For more information, visit http://www.pediatricprotonfoundation.org.
The National Association for Proton Therapy
The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) is a non-profit organization supported by proton center members and is the Voice of the Proton Community. The NAPT provides education and public awareness for the clinical benefits of proton beam radiation therapy. It serves as a resource center for professionals, policymakers, patients and media interested in proton therapy. For more information, visit http://www.proton-therapy.org
SOURCE National Association for Proton Therapy