Proton Therapy for Anal Cancer

Last Modified: April 20, 2008

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Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

Is the new proton beam radiation a viable option for anal cancers?


James M. Metz, MD, Editor-in-Chief of OncoLink and Assistant Professor of Radiation Oncology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

Proton beam therapy is being explored as a possible form of treatment for a number of cancers. To date, no clinical studies have been done specifically treating anal cancer. However, there is interest in expanding the use of protons to treat a number of gastrointestinal malignancies. Because many of these cancers are currently treated with combined chemotherapy and radiation therapy, which has a higher complication rate then either therapy alone, proton-based radiation may offer benefits due to the superior dose deposition within the target and reduced dose to normal organs – resulting in potentially fewer and less severe side effects. I am not aware of any clinical trials that have been started specifically for anal cancer. As the availability of proton therapy expands, this will certainly become an area of clinical investigation.

Intensity-modulated radiation equally as effective as conventional therapy and less toxic

Jan 20, 2011 - The combination of chemotherapy with intensity-modulated radiation therapy is equally as effective for the treatment of anal cancer after two years as the combination of chemotherapy and conventionally delivered radiation therapy, as well as less toxic, according to a study presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology's annual Gastrointestinal Cancers Symposium, held from Jan. 20 to 22 in San Francisco.

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