Proton therapy is actively and repeatedly discussed within the framework of particle therapy for the treatment of prostate cancer (PC). The argument in favor of treating the prostate with protons is partly financial: given that small volumes are treated, treatment times are low, resulting in a hypothetical high patient throughput.
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However, such considerations should not form the basis of medical decision-making. There are also physical and biological arguments which further support the use of particle therapy for PC. The only relevant randomized data currently available is the study by Zietman and colleagues, comparing a high to a low proton boost, resulting in a significant increase in PSA-free survival in the experimental (high dose) arm (1). With modern photon treatments and image-guided radiotherapy (IGRT), equally high doses can be applied with photons and, thus, a randomized trial comparing high-end photons to protons is warranted. For high-linear energy transfer (LET) particles, such as carbon ions, the increase in relative biological effectiveness could potentially convert into an improvement in outcome. Additionally, through the physical differences of protons and carbon ions, the steeper dose gradient with carbon ions and the lack of beam broadening in the carbon beam lead to a superior dose distribution supporting the idea of hypofractionation. Biological and clinical data are emerging, however, has practice-changing evidence already arrived?
Frontiers in oncology. 2016 Jan 28*** epublish ***
Kilian C Schiller, Gregor Habl, Stephanie E Combs
Department of Radiation Oncology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München (TUM) , München , Germany. , Department of Radiation Oncology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München (TUM) , München , Germany. , Department of Radiation Oncology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technische Universität München (TUM), München, Germany; Institute of Innovative Radiotherapy (iRT), Department of Radiation Sciences (DRS), Helmholtz Zentrum München, Oberschleißheim, Germany; Deutsches Konsortium für Translationale Krebsforschung (dktk), Partner Site München, München, Germany.