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Intensity modulated proton therapy reduces need for feeding tubes by 50 percent
Date:9/25/2013

ATLANTA, GA A new study from researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center found that the use of feeding tubes in oropharyngeal carcinoma (OPC) cancer patients treated with intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) decreased by more than 50 percent compared to patients treated with intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT). This suggests that proton therapy may offer vital quality of life benefits for patients with tumors occurring at the back of the throat.

The results, presented today by the lead researcher, Steven J. Frank, M.D., associate professor of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson at the American Society for Radiation Oncology's 55th Annual Meeting, also indicate that toxicity levels in OPC patients treated with IMPT are much lower than those treated with IMRT.

IMPT, one of the most advanced forms of proton therapy, delivers a precise dose of protons to tumors embedded in the "nooks and crannies" of the head and neck, including the base of tongue and tonsils. MD Anderson treated its first IMPT patient in 2011 and since approximately 150 patients, many with complex head and neck malignancies, have been treated with this form of proton therapy. Unlike IMRT, which destroys both cancerous and healthy cells, IMPT has the ability to destroy cancer cells while sparing surrounding healthy tissue from damage. Therefore, important quality of life outcomes such as neurocognitive function, vision, swallowing, hearing, taste and speech can be preserved in head and neck patients.

"IMPT is especially well-suited for patients with the most complicated tumors of the head and neck, precisely painting the protons onto the tumor layer by layer," said Frank. "In this way, the treatment team can confine the majority of the tumor-damaging energy to target areas and work to protect normal structures such as the oral cavity and brainstem."

OPC cancer develops in the part of the throat just behind the mouth.
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Contact: Agata Porter
agata.porter@gabbe.com
212-220-4444
University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center
Source:Eurekalert

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