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MD Anderson treats lung cancer with pencil beam scanning proton therapy

September 25, 2017

As the therapy advances, one of the next steps is using imaging tools to predict the movement of tumors, both lung and other cancers, to offer even greater precision.  

"Four dimensional imaging and treatment planning help us to know how much the lung or tumor moves, so we can adapt the pencil beam," Chang said.  "Now, with new technology, we know the pattern of this motion."

According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 222,520 new cases of lung cancer will be diagnosed in 2010.  Despite advances, the long-term survival rates of lung cancer remain low, reinforcing the need to expand therapies that offer a greater combination of potency and accuracy.

Billy Walls, 75, from El Paso, Texas, was the first lung cancer patient to be treated with pencil beam technology at MD Anderson.  Originally diagnosed in 2004, Walls underwent a partial surgical resection of his lung, along with chemotherapy and radiation.  Four years later, his cancer returned to the same location and he was advised against further surgery and told about proton therapy.

"Hope is the main benefit," Walls said of his pencil beam experience.  "I don't feel anything during treatment, I haven't lost any weight, I'm not coughing as much, and I still walk in the mornings."

SOURCE MD Anderson Proton Therapy