Most people are familiar with radiation treatment. Traditional radiation therapy (also called X-ray therapy) uses high doses of radiation to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors. High-energy photon beams come from a machine and are aimed at a precise point on the body. These beams will damage both healthy and cancerous cells, so the goal is to damage as many cancer cells while avoiding healthy, non-cancerous tissue.
Proton therapy is the latest advancement in radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer. Instead of photon beams, this cutting-edge radiation uses proton beams. Proton beams offer several advantages over traditional photon beams.
Advantages of Proton Therapy
Proton therapy offers some unique advantages over traditional photon therapy including more direct impact on the tumor, better precision, and fewer harmful side effects:
1. Direct Impact – Proton therapy delivers a higher level of radiation than X-ray radiation therapy. This means that doctors have a stronger weapon in their arsenal. This could mean fewer treatments overall or reduced treatment duration.
2. Precision Targeting – While proton therapy delivers a higher level of radiation than X-ray therapy, it’s the way the protons react that gives it the biggest advantage. Protons slowly deposit their energy as they travel towards the cancerous tumor and then, once at the target, they deposit the majority of the radiation dose directly in the tumor. Once they have deposited their radiation, they travel no further through the body. Because of the increased accuracy of the delivery of the protons, physicians can deliver higher doses of radiation to cancerous tumors potentially resulting in higher cure rates.
3. Fewer Side Effects – With photon therapy, radiation is deposited on the way into the body as well as on the way out of the body. Compare that to proton therapy, where less surrounding tissue/organs receive radiation, and there is a lower risk of unwanted complications and side effects. Additionally, proton therapy significantly reduces chances of developing a secondary cancer due to radiation.
4. Treats Recurrent Tumors – Finally, proton therapy is the best radiation treatment available that can treat recurrent tumors previously treated with radiation.
Now that you understand the advantages of proton therapy, you can see why the medical industry is so excited about this new type of radiation therapy. At KCUC, we are dedicated to bringing our patients the very best care and that means being able to offer the latest treatments for cancer. That’s the whole reason behind our new Kansas City Proton Institute (KCPI). But besides the better results, what you may not realize are the non-medical advantages that KCPI will provide from a patient standpoint – namely convenience and cost.
Kansas City Proton Institute Is the First Outpatient Proton Therapy Provider
There are two main benefits to outpatient proton therapy. The first and most obvious benefit is the convenience that an office-based center can provide. Instead of having to drive downtown to a hospital-based facility, KCPI patients can get care in Overland Park. Considering that radiation therapy is typically five days a week for one to two months, this makes a huge difference in the lives and schedules of our patients, not to mention their wallets with gas prices so inflated. Plus, there’s a lot less hassle with parking and finding their therapy department. Our patients will pull right up, find ample parking in our garage and can find their way easily to the right place. This is a huge relief for many patients as it will save them time, gas, and a lot of hassle during an already stressful time.
KCPI Costs Less for the Same Level of Care
The other benefit is one that many patients simply aren’t aware of. Office-based proton therapy is more affordable than hospital-based therapy. This is because hospitals can legally charge higher rates for cancer care. Hospital-based radiation oncology programs are legally allowed, by insurers and Medicare, to charge higher rates and facility fees. This results in an upcharge in the price of treatment. NCI-designated cancer centers are allowed to charge an even higher amount for the same radiation therapy treatments that are provided at office-based, or outpatient centers like our outpatient proton therapy center. At KCPI, you get the same level of care, closer to home and you’ll pay less.