Focus of the Report: This report focuses on the use of proton beam therapy (PBT) to treat prostate cancer.

Technology Description: PBT is a type of external radiation treatment in which positively charged subatomic particles (protons) are precisely targeted to a specific tissue mass using a sophisticated stereotactic planning and delivery system. Compared with conventional radiation, PBT may deliver a higher radiation dose to the target tissue while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

Controversy: Highly sophisticated methods have been developed for targeting conventional radiation therapy, including dose fractionation, modulation of radiation intensity, and delivery of radiation with devices that sweep in multiple arcs around the patient to generate beams that intersect at the tumor. As a result, the complications of conventional prostate radiation therapy are usually minor and easily managed. In addition, conventional radiation therapy is much more widely available than PBT, which reduces the burden of patients needing to travel and remain away from home during treatment.

Key Questions:

  • Compared with other treatment options, does PBT improve local control of the target lesion and/or increase survival for patients with prostate cancer?

  • Does PBT cause fewer complications than other types of radiation therapy?

  • Have definitive patient selection criteria for PBT for prostate cancer been established?

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