D Healthcare Daily was there to observe some of the earliest testing:
The treatment center is in Las Colinas and will be the first proton therapy provider in North Texas. The highly specialized form of cancer therapy uses a proton beam generated by a 220-ton machine known as a cyclotron. It travels the length of about half the football field into a treatment room, where a patient is lying. After weeks of careful imaging and planning, the physicist beams a concentrated dose of the radiation directly into the tumor, limiting exposure to healthy tissue. This is what Dr. Chang Chang, the director of physicists, and his team were testing, that the radiation would go where they want it to go and nowhere else.
“After a certain depth, you will see the reading becomes zero, just no dose at all,” Chang says. “It’s very, very amazing when you compare that with photon. If you look at photon, wherever you go, however deep you are, you’re going to get a dose.”
He’s talking about traditional radiation, which uses a photon to wage war on the cancerous tumor. But it’s not as precise as proton, meaning healthy bodily tissue is more likely to be exposed. This leads to further side effects and an increased chance in developing secondary cancer, as evidenced by a 2014 study in the Journal of Radiation Oncology.
We live in the future, my friends.