The image on the right shows the amount of radiation that the body receives during treatment for stage III NSCLC with proton therapy in comparison to X-ray/IMRT treatment. Colors indicate areas of the body that received radiation. Compared to IMRT, proton therapy significantly reduced the dose of radiation to surrounding tissue, especially the heart and the healthy lung.
The data in support of proton therapy and its unique advantages continues to grow. In a study with stage III NSCLC patients, proton therapy is estimated to reduce 34% of radiation to the heart and 45% to the healthy lung when compared to IMRT.4 A separate study from M.D. Anderson demonstrated that proton therapy had better than expected median survivorship, lower local recurrence, and improved side effects compared to historical controls.3 Comparison across studies evaluating high dose X-Ray radiation and high dose proton radiation for locally advanced lung cancer suggests better treatment tolerability as well as outcomes with proton therapy.2, 5
It is based on these data that the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center has targeted intrathoracic tumors, particularly lung cancers as an area of tremendous benefit for our patients. Since its inception, our center has treated nearly 100 intrathoracic tumors including many challenging primary and recurrent lung cancers. As our multidisciplinary thoracic oncology program continues to grow, we look forward to providing this leading-edge treatment to many more patients.