According to the American Cancer Society, more than 155,000 people will lose their lives to lung cancer by the end of 2017. Recurrence stands out as the primary cause of these deaths, largely because repeat patients neither respond well to a second course of chemotherapy nor are appropriate candidates for surgery. Fortunately, a specialized form of image-guided radiation therapy may extend survival times for many of these patients.
This treatment, known as intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT), uses scanning beam technology to customize the intensity of multiple pencil beams. This allows for more precise delivery to tumors and thus enables the use of higher doses of radiation, whereas less conformal radiation delivery techniques would place nearby structures at too high a risk of damage.
In a recent University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center study of patients who received IMPT for recurrent lung cancer, 61 percent of those individuals remained recurrence free for at least one year. Researchers noted that higher doses of radiation reduced local recurrences and increased chances of progression-free survival, which totaled 51 percent at the one-year follow up. This makes IMPT a promising treatment in patients for whom repeat radiation treatment might otherwise be too risky an option.