The History of Proton Therapy

cancer treatment therapy

No one wants to be diagnosed with cancer or watch a loved one battle the disease. Cancer, in particular, is a disease that is both emotionally and physically demanding. It is also a condition that, unfortunately, is quite common. Many cancer patients will look for non-invasive cancer treatments that are effective and have limited side effects. Proton therapy is a radiation treatment for cancer that may provide just that.

According to Provision Cares, a Proton therapy center in Knoxville, Tennessee, Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer. Unlike conventional radiation therapy, the timing and dosage of the protons’ energy can be controlled, allowing the maximum energy to be put directly into the tumor and reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

More than 67,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at centers in Europe, Asia, and the United States. It was first used to treat patients in 1955 in a research setting, but its use was limited because imaging techniques could not accurately pinpoint tumors.

It was also used in nuclear physics research facilities. The idea of using protons in medical treatment was first suggested in 1946 by physicist Robert R. Wilson, Ph.D. According to the American Brain Tumor Association, the first cancer patient received proton therapy at the Berkeley Radiation Laboratory in 1954. However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that imaging advancements coupled with the development of computers and improved technology made proton therapy a more realistic option for cancer treatment centers. Research of proton treatment as a viable cancer treatment therapy increased rapidly over the next 30 years.

While proton cancer treatment has been used to treat tumors for nearly 60 years, it has more recently become approved in the United States. In 1988, proton therapy finally received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval. In 2006, there were only 5 proton therapy treatment centers in the United States. According to the “US Proton Therapy Outlook 2017” by RNCOS, the U.S. will be home to almost 27 proton therapy centers by 2017. It is surprising to see that even though this cancer treatment therapy is revolutionary and finally getting the recognition it deserves, it is not new!

If you or someone you love has received a cancer diagnosis and would like to find out more about Proton cancer treatment therapies, contact Provision today.

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