New therapies, utilizing protons, often in combination with other modalities, are furthering success for patients.
Currently in Use
Hyperthermia offers an enhancement to therapy through the heating of tumors to 102 degrees prior to or following proton treatment. Combining hyperthermia with protons increases the effectiveness of the protons by enhancing blood flow and driving additional oxygen to the tumor. Maryland Proton Treatment Center (MPTC) is the first in the world to combine proton therapy and hyperthermia in the treatment of tumors in the same center. Success rates are tumor dependent, but the combined therapy is proven to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy by causing tumor cell death, through inhibition of DNA repair and enhanced blood vessel perfusion.
Immunotherapy provides patients another treatment option to combat cancer cells in the body, particularly those historically treatment-resistant. Immunotherapy energizes the lymphocytes in cells that attack the tumor, and proton therapy is shown to reduce immunosuppression. We are teaming proton therapy with immunotherapy to enhance this immune response/attack on tumor cells.
Anticipated in the Future
FLASH is a novel radiotherapy modality based on dose delivery at an ultrahigh rate. The first preclinical investigation is underway to evaluate the effects of FLASH with proton therapy at MPTC, capable of delivering an ultrahigh dose in just a few seconds. This greater efficiency lessens the effects on normal tissue. Early results are indicating increased survival and no impact on surrounding tissue. Normal tissue toxicity studies have revealed a 25% reduction in fibrosis/radiation scarring and 35% reduction in dermatitis/skin reactions with FLASH versus conventional radiation delivery.