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Particle Beam Radiation Therapy Promising But Unproven for Treating Cancer
Date:9/14/2009

ROCKVILLE, Md., Sept. 14 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Particle beam radiation therapy, a technology used to treat several types of cancer, is considered by some clinicians to be better than traditional radiation, but there is limited evidence about its safety compared with other types of radiation therapy, according to a new comparative effectiveness report funded by HHS' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

"As technologies develop and new clinical interventions arise, it is important to balance access to potentially beneficial new technologies with ongoing research and evaluation to determine whether the technologies deliver what they promise," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "Increased funding for comparative effectiveness research is an exciting opportunity to continue important research on medical therapies and interventions."

Particle beam radiation therapy -- also known as charged particle radiation therapy or proton beam radiation therapy -- uses beams of protons or other charged particles for cancer radiation treatment. Particle beam radiation therapy is an alternative to other types of cancer radiation therapy such as external radiotherapy with ionizing photon (X- or gamma-ray) beams or brachytherapy with implanted radioactive sources.

All types of radiation therapy can harm both cancerous and healthy tissues, so clinicians strive to target the radiation to the cancer while avoiding adjacent healthy tissues. This is particularly important for tumors adjacent to critical body parts such as those in the eye, brain, head and neck. Particle beam radiation therapy can target the radiation with a high degree of precision, but its potential advantages over other radiotherapy alternatives have not been verified in long-term outcome studies, according to the new AHRQ technical brief.

Particle beam radiation therapy was introduced as an experimental treat
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SOURCE Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality
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