The importance of proton therapy is being confirmed through international recommendations for the treatment and by the growing number of centres and diagnoses treatable.
In 2015 an additional 12 proton therapy centres were put into operation, most notably at the renowned Mayo Clinic in the USA, the undisputed leader in oncology. They have launched 2 proton centres, with a total of 8 rooms, using pencil beam scanning. This is the latest in technology in proton therapy, also used at the Prague Proton Therapy Center.
Another institution to begin using proton radiotherapy is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, USA, which is the absolute leader in the treatment of paediatric malignancies. The senior radiation oncologist, Thomas Merchant, has said proton radiotherapy is “the next logical step for the hospital necessary to remain the world leader in the research and treatment of brain tumours.” In addition to brain tumours the hospital will treat Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other solid tumours such as Ewing sarcoma, neuroblastoma and retinoblastoma.
The remaining centres have been opened in Japan, Germany, Italy, Sweden and further clinics in the USA. For these countries the newly opened centres are in addition to treatment centres already running, and Japan now has 14 centres in operation.
The number of diagnoses that proton therapy is recommended for is increasing. Proton therapy has been included in internationally recognised guidelines published by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) in its Proton Beam Therapy Model Policy. It divides diagnoses into two groups, the first where proton therapy is considered necessary for medical reasons, which includes eye tumours, skull base tumours, primary or metastatic tumours of the spine, primary hepatocellular carcinoma, malignant or benign tumours in children and tumours in patients with certain genetic syndromes. The second group includes cancer of the head and neck, thorax, abdomen and pelvis, where ASTRO recommended the strategy “Coverage with Evidence Development (CED)”, i.e. reimbursement from health insurance companies under certain conditions. Proton radiotherapy has also newly emerged in the guidelines for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer as one of the options to safely deliver a curative dose.
The Prague Proton Therapy Center is confident that the acknowledgment of the benefit of proton therapy will continue to increase rapidly, and that we will see increasingly strong recommendations for proton therapy in further diagnoses.