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Cancers that can be treated with proton therapy

Treatment of Pediatric Cancers with Proton Therapy

We can divide pediatric cancers that can be treated with Proton Therapy into 5 groups. 

A- Brain Tumor

B- Sarcomas

C- Retinoblastoma


E- Lymphomas


Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous areas that begin anywhere in the body. 

A brain tumor is the result of the uncontrolled growth of cells in the brain. While primary tumors start and grow in the brain, secondary tumors occur because a tumor located elsewhere in the body metastasizes.

Neurological Examination is Used in Diagnosis

Neurological exams include checking vision, hearing, balance, coordination and reflexes. These tests provide clues about the brain area affected by a tumor.

Various Factors Impact Classification

Tumor classification is determined by several factors, including the exact location of a tumor, the type of tissue involved, and whether the tumor is cancerous.

Reducing adverse side effects is a primary concern when treating patients battling childhood cancer. Because of its sensitivity, proton therapy is one of the best treatment options available to treat pediatric cancer. It is effective, reduces damage to organs and tissues surrounding the affected area, and minimizes adverse side effects, including developmental delays, hearing loss, salivary gland damage, and hormone deficiencies.


Bone and soft tissue sarcomas are cancerous areas that begin anywhere in the body. Representing about 15 percent of all pediatric cancers, about 60 percent of sarcomas begin in the arm or leg, 30 percent in the abdomen, and 10 in the head or neck.

Sarcoma symptoms are not usually seen in the early stages of cancer. Typical symptoms include:

  • Pain if a tumor presses on nerves or muscles

  • A visible lump or swelling

  • Obstruction in the stomach or intestines or gastrointestinal bleeding (if the tumor is in the abdomen / digestive tract)

When diagnosing a sarcoma, a doctor will likely complete a physical exam and various imaging tests, including x-rays, computed tomography (CT) scans, ultrasounds, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET). A doctor may also choose to do a biopsy, taking an area of affected tissue to examine for cancer.

When using proton therapy, doctors can aggressively treat tumors with high-dose protons while sparing surrounding tissue. Because protons enter the body at the targeted point and then stop, by removing the exit dose, the sensitive tissue usually surrounding the sarcoma will receive less secondary radiation.


Neuroblastomas are tumors that form in the nervous system of young children, especially in areas other than the brain and spinal cord.

An eye cancer that most commonly affects children, retinoblastoma tends to appear before the age of two and is often the result of an inherited gene mutation. If the tumor is localized, the chances of recovery are incredibly high, and more than 90 percent of cases heal.

Retinoblastoma begins in the retina, the sensitive lining inside the eye that detects light.

Adults are rarely diagnosed with retinoblastoma. It is the most common type of eye cancer in children.

Common symptoms of retinoblastoma include:

  • white color in the pupil

  • Eyes that seem to look in different directions

  • eye redness

  • swelling of the eye

Once retinoblastoma is diagnosed, the doctor may perform an eye exam to determine the cause of the symptoms. Imaging tests, including ultrasound, computed tomography (CT), and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), may also be used.

When a child with retinoblastoma is treated, it is usually treated through a combination of options that ensure the eye and vision remain intact. This may include cryotherapy, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. However, with its sensitivity and control, proton therapy can be used to destroy cancerous cells in a tumor while preserving healthy ocular tissues.


Neuroblastomas are tumors that form in the nervous system of young children, especially in areas other than the brain and spinal cord. They usually appear on the chest or abdomen, most commonly seen in children 5 years of age and younger, with the genetic mutation occurring during pregnancy or shortly after birth.

Neuroblastoma treatment depends on a variety of factors, and some have more than one.
requires treatment.

Neuroblastoma, which develops from immature nerve cells, is usually found in kidney cells.

The symptoms of neuroblastoma vary according to the affected area. General symptoms include:

  • Fire

  • Tissue lumps under the skin

  • Eyeballs that appear to protrude from the sockets

  • Back pain

  • unexplained weight loss

  • dark circles around the eyes

To diagnose neuroblastoma, the doctor may perform a physical exam to check for symptoms and a urine or blood test to check for abnormal levels of various chemicals that may be the result of neuroblastoma cells.
Imaging tests are also used to check for tumors, such as x-rays, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans, and ultrasound. If a mass is found, the doctor may take a tissue sample (biopsy) for examination and testing.

Proton therapy provides targeted therapy with minimal side effects and is best suited for patients with a tumor near a sensitive organ, including the heart, eye or lung. Physicians will be able to offer effective treatment with reduced impact to these critical organs.


Lymphomas are immune system cancers found in the lymph nodes. Most individuals -- usually children and young adults -- who are treated with conventional radiation therapy recover.

Intermediate- and high-risk lymphomas that spread quickly but typically respond well to intensive therapy are more common in children.

Lymph systems are a network of nodes and vessels that remove bacteria from the lymph fluid and produce antibodies that actively fight disease.

If one or more of these symptoms occur, see your doctor. Childhood lymphoma symptoms may include:

  • Painless swelling of lymph nodes

  • Fire

  • Itching

  • excessive night sweats

  • Loss of appetite

  • unexplained weight loss

With conventional treatments, children often experience significant side effects, including secondary cancers later in life, such as breast cancer. With pen beam capabilities that precisely target treatment areas, proton therapy is less likely to cause significant side effects such as heart disease and secondary cancers than conventional radiation methods. Less healthy tissue is exposed to radiation, which allows doctors to successfully treat cancerous cells and reduces the chance of secondary cancer.

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