Protons interact with human tissue differently than do photons and these differences can be exploited in an attempt to improve the care of lung cancer patients. This review examines proton beam therapy (PBT) as a component of a combined modality program for locally advanced lung cancers. It was specifically written for the non-radiation oncologist who desires greater understanding of this newer treatment modality. This review describes and compares photon (X-ray) radiotherapy (XRT) to PBT. The physical differences of these beams are described and the clinical literature is reviewed. Protons can be used to create treatment plans delivering significantly lower doses of radiation to the adjacent organs at risk (lungs, esophagus, and bone marrow) than photons. Clinically, PBT combined with chemotherapy has resulted in low rates of toxicity compared to XRT. Early results suggest a possible improvement in survival. The clinical results of proton therapy in lung cancer patients reveal relatively low rates of toxicity and possible survival benefits. One randomized study is being performed and another is planned to clarify the clinical differences in patient outcome for PBT compared to XRT. Along with the development of better systemic therapy, newer forms of radiotherapy such as PBT should positively impact the care of lung cancer patients. This review provides the reader with the current status of this new technology in treating locally advanced lung cancer.
- 3-D radiotherapy
- Intensity modulated photon radiotherapy
- Intensity modulated proton therapy
- Intensity modulated radiotherapy
- Lung cancer
- Proton beam therapy
ASJC Scopus subject areas