New technologies in radiation therapy for pediatric brain tumors: the rationale for proton radiation therapy.
BACKGROUND: Pediatric brain tumors are frequently treated with radiation therapy and often cured. The long-term side effects of treatment with high-energy X-rays (photons) can be substantial. Proton radiation therapy may limit these late effects. PROCEDURE: The physical difference between photon and proton irradiation is compared. The clinical benefits of the superior physical properties of proton beam radiation therapy are explained for children with brain tumors. RESULTS: At biologically equivalent doses, proton radiation therapy offers tumor control similar to photon radiation therapy. The superior physical properties of proton beams make this mode of radiation therapy less likely to cause late effects. CONCLUSIONS: For many children with brain tumors, proton beam radiation therapy may limit the late effects of radiation therapy and therefore offer an advantage over techniques using photons.
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