The Benefits of Proton Therapy in the Treatment of Breast Cancer

By: Scot Ackerman, M.D.

In many cancer cases, proton therapy treatment is more beneficial than conventional X-ray radiation for breast cancer patients because it reduces the dose of radiation to surrounding healthy tissue, like the heart and lungs. Extremely high doses of radiation exposure can result in a woman developing heart attacks, heart disease, and/or chronic lung damage as a long-term side effect of treatment. This is especially true for women with left-sided breast cancers.

Cancer patients and survivors are living longer, healthier lives today. It is important that a newly diagnosed patient feels empowered to research her treatment options so that she can have the best outcomes regarding her personal quality of life.

With each patient—whether breast cancer or any other tumor site—Ackerman Cancer Center’s medical physics department creates a proton therapy and a conventional radiation treatment plan to compare which course of treatment will be most efficient and effective. Then, your physician will make recommendations for treatment based on the outcome of that comparative plan. 

Because proton therapy does not have an exit dose, some clinicians have a concern about the uncertainty of where the proton particles will hit their peak energy deposition—healthy tissue or cancer cells. At Ackerman Cancer Center, we address this uncertainty through daily image guidance, surgical clips left from lumpectomy procedures, and coaching the patient on breath-hold techniques. 
If you have questions about proton therapy for breast cancer, please contact us at 904-880-5522.