Research News

Proton beam therapy is as effective as radiotherapy in childhood brain cancer but less toxic, study shows

BMJ 2016; 352 doi: (Published 01 February 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;352:i608
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

Proton beam therapy achieves similar survival to conventional radiotherapy in children with medulloblastoma and may be less toxic, a study has shown.1 A commentator said that it “sets a new benchmark for the treatment of paediatric medulloblastoma,”2 the most common childhood brain cancer.

This type of cancer is currently treated and frequently cured with surgery to remove the tumour, as well as photon radiotherapy and chemotherapy. But children are often left with significant side effects including hearing loss, neurocognitive and hormonal deficits, and damage to the heart, lungs, thyroid, and vertebrae. Proton beam therapy is more highly targeted than conventional photon radiotherapy and reduces the exposure of healthy tissue to radiation.

Researchers studied 59 children aged 3-21 years (median …

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