A diagnoses of a brain tumor in a child is devastating for the child and family. There is now more hope for the successful treatment of the most common type of malignant brain tumor in children. Medical News Today reported, proton therapy is as effective as conventional radiotherapy with less side effects for the treatment of this type of brain tumor in children. Researchers have found that proton therapy is just as effective as conventional radiotherapy for the treatment of pediatric medulloblastoma and this treatment has fewer side effects.
Lead author Torunn Yock, who is director of pediatric radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an associate professor of radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School, says the results of their study have indicated that proton therapy has excellent cure rates for pediatric medulloblastoma while lowering long-term side effects, particularly in dealing with hearing and neurocognitive function. Cardiac, pulmonary, gastrointestinal and reproductive effects are eliminated with this treatment.
Medulloblastoma is a fast-growing brain tumor which is seen primarily in children and accounts for about 18 percent of childhood brain tumors. This type of tumor develops in the cerebellum at the base of the child’s brain. Generally medulloblastoma can be treated with success using a combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. However because of the position of the tumor in the brain the treatment often is associated with long-term side effects.
With conventional photon radiotherapy based on X-rays there is a high risk of collateral damage. Although the beam is directed at the tumor it also delivers radiation to tissue which is in front and behind the tumor. This can lead to the impairment of important functions in children. With proton therapy, which also known as proton beam therapy, a proton beam is used. With a proton beam it is possible to more precisely confine the radiation to the tumor. There is therefore a much smaller chance of healthy surrounding tissue being killed.
This study has been published in The Lancet Oncology. In comparison with traditional photon radiotherapy with proton radiotherapy less normal tissue is irradiated. This has the potential to improve health outcomes which are associated with photon radiotherapy by lessening toxic effects to normal tissue. Proton radiotherapy may offer a good alternative to photon-based treatments. This is a promising finding for children with medulloblastoma.