Gamma Knife and Laser Therapy for Cancer Treatment?
Though they may sound like the stuff of science fiction, phrases like â€œparticle beam,â€ â€œproton beam,â€ â€œgamma knifeâ€ and â€œlaser therapyâ€ may conjure comic book-like images. But these therapies are very real, and are an integral part of modern cancer treatments.
Shooting Lasers to Fight Cancer?
For patients and their families, the idea of using lasers to fight cancer may seem more than a little exoticâ€”it may seem a little frightening, too. But treatments like proton therapy arenâ€™t exotic or new; in fact, many of these therapies have been aroundâ€“ in some form or another â€“ since the 1940s.
Ionizing Radiation for Cancer Treatment
Radiosurgery and stereotactic surgery (SRS) use the principle of ionizing radiation with surgical precision on a variety of cancers. The techniques also offer the benefit of leaving healthy tissue and organs surrounding the cancerous site unscathed during and after treatment. The â€œsurgicalâ€ effects of photon therapy reveal the precision and effectiveness of these treatments.
Glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer, is the most resistant cancer to any treatment. This brain cancer is resistant to even proton beam therapy; but this type of therapy at least helps to preserve the healthy tissue surrounding the site of the cancer while working in hopes of eradicating the cancerous cells from the body.
Proton therapy and children
Parents considering proton therapy might be concerned that those powerful rays could damage the organs of still-growing children. But using proton therapy to treat children with cancer can be especially effective, since proton therapy can pinpoint the cancer without damaging healthy, growing tissue.
Proton Therapy for Cancer Treatment
Though this therapy is valuable for children, medical professionals choose not to perform it on children younger than five years old to avoid damaging their still developing brains. Some of the childrenâ€™s cancers that can be treated by proton therapy include astrocytoma, a type of brain cancer, ependymoma and germinoma (both cancers of the central nervous system), and some types of sarcomas, which affect the bodyâ€™s soft tissue like bone and muscle. Itâ€™s important that patients considering proton therapy have hopefulâ€”but realisticâ€”expectations for treatment.
Each patient who receives such a diagnosis in any of these cancers should seek out a specialist who has expertise in oncology to discuss the least invasive and most effective treatment possible to expeditiously treat the cancerous site without damaging neighboring cells and organs.