Proton Therapy for Childhood Cancer

In cases of childhood cancer, it is very important to improve the quality of life by minimizing side effects or complications. So, more attention is paid to proton therapy in treating childhood cancer today. Let's talk more about proton therapy for childhood cancer.

How is childhood cancer different from other cancers?

Unlike adults, children’s body and organs are not fully mature, so the type of cancer that develops is also different. While adult cancers are mostly solid tumors in which brain tumors, neurogenic tumors, and sarcoma are major cancer types, the cancers that develop in childhood are mostly hematologic malignancy, including leukemia and lymphoma. Recent advances in pediatric cancer treatment have led to a significant increase in survival rate, but there is also a growing concern about the side effects of treatment during the survival period. In this sense, minimizing the potential for long-term adverse effects while maintaining improved therapeutic outcomes is an important part of pediatric cancer treatment

What is the purpose of radiation therapy in childhood cancer?

Radiation therapy is performed to prevent tumor recurrence after surgery, or in lieu of surgery to remove the tumor in childhood cancer. Proton therapy, which can significantly reduce radiation effects on the surrounding normal organs, is expected to improve quality of life by minimizing long-term sequelae in children caused by radiation.

In which case can proton therapy be applied in childhood cancer?

• Types of childhood cancer to which proton therapy can be applied

Proton therapy may be a good alternative in all pediatric cancers where radiation therapy is needed, except when it is necessary to deliver radiation throughout the body.

Why do we recommend proton therapy for childhood cancer?

In children, radiation resistance is relatively low compared to adults, and there are concerns about side effects from radiation delivery. It has been reported that adverse effects due to radiation are greater in children than adults before or during the growth period. As the treatment results of pediatric tumors have improved and the survival period has increased, side effects of long-term and continuous radiation therapy have become a serious problem rather paradoxically. Proton therapy has the advantage of minimizing unnecessary radiation exposure to normal organs other than tumors.

What are the advantages of proton therapy in childhood cancer?

The primary goal of proton therapy is to maintain the current high rate of treatment and at the same time reduce the long-term side effects of radiation therapy and the possibility of secondary cancer. Several early studies have reported that the same radiation dose as x-ray therapy is delivered in proton therapy, resulting in reduced side effects while maintaining the same performance as conventional therapy. The incidence of secondary cancer has been reported to be three times higher in children with long-term survival who received additional x-ray therapy than in the general population. In the case of proton therapy, however, the low-dose distribution that can cause secondary cancer is significantly lower than that of x-rays, so the rate of secondary cancer is expected to be lower in the long term.

SMC Proton Therapy Center offers integrated personalized treatment for children in collaboration with Pediatric Adolescent Center, Radiation Oncology, and other relevant departments so as to deliver the best possible treatment and warmest hope to children with cancer and their families.
For more information on proton therapy in childhood cancer, visit the Proton Therapy Center website

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