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Proton therapy has become a revolutionary discovery in oncology. It works on the same principle as radiation therapy, but several times safer and more effective. There are more than 89 proton therapy centers in the world. More than 200,000 people worldwide have been treated for cancer with this modern method. Those seeking proton therapy treatment want to know what to expect from this method. How long will the treatment take? How to plan a trip for proton therapy treatment? MediGlobus will answer all of these questions with the example of the Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center in Spain. After reading this article, you will know everything about how proton therapy is used to treat cancer.

 

 

ABOUT THE QUIRONSALUD PROTON THERAPY CENTER IN SPAIN

Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center is the only clinic in Spain where proton therapy is available. It is also the only center in Europe using the latest IBA Proteus ONE technology. It is a powerful cyclotron that irradiates a tumor in layers with a thin beam. This system is also called “pencil beam scanning”. Thanks to it, the patients of the Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center receive the most accurate and safe therapy available.

FEATURES OF PROTON THERAPY IN THE QUIRONSALUD PROTON THERAPY CENTER

Cancer treatment with proton therapy is different from traditional strategy. Unlike surgery, it is performed on an outpatient basis – it does not require a constant stay in the hospital. Proton therapy has fewer side effects compared to chemotherapy: the patient will not feel sick, his hair and nails will remain. In contrast to radiation therapy, it reduces the risk of cancer coming back.

 

    The Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center provides personalized treatment for maximum effectiveness. For this reason, the treatment is divided into 5 stages.

STAGE 1. PREPARATION OF DOCUMENTS AND DISCUSSION AT THE CONSILIUM

Before arriving for treatment, the patient must submit a set of medical documents to the clinic. This is necessary so that doctors can determine if a person is a suitable candidate for therapy. For this, anamnesis is sent to the hospital, including CT or MRI scans, blood tests and doctors’ conclusions. MediGlobus coordinating doctors can help with the translation and sending of the patient’s history to the Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center.

 

After receiving the documents, the clinic staff convenes a consultation at which oncologists and radiologists are present. They assess the patient’s condition, the possibilities of alternative treatments, and the expected benefits of proton therapy. If a person does not have serious heart and gastrointestinal diseases and the tumor is located in an accessible place for irradiation, then an invitation is sent to the patient.

Medical history and conclusions before proton therapy

 

    The clinic sends a response to the patient within 5 days.

STAGE 2. DIAGNOSTIC EXAMINATION

    Diagnostic accuracy is the core of successful treatment. The more accurately doctors determine the location of the tumor, the more effective and safer the treatment will be.

 

Upon arrival in Spain, the patient visits an oncologist for a consultation. The doctor will explain in detail how the treatment will take place, how long it will take, and what complications may be after radiation. The patient will be able to ask all questions about the process and results of therapy, the experience of the doctor and his colleagues or the equipment of the hospital.

 

After consultation, the patient undergoes computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging of the tumor. These procedures are necessary to make detailed high-resolution 3D scans of the lesion. Their presence is a key element for planning treatment and customizing the linear accelerator to the individual characteristics of the patient.

 

КТ и МРТ сканирование перед протонной терапией

The scanning is repeated even if the patient has already undergone these procedures at home. This is due to the fact that the latest generation tomographs are installed at the Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center. They take more accurate pictures, which is vital for a patient undergoing proton therapy.

 

Each patient case is different. If necessary, the patient will be prescribed additional examinations, such as PET-CT. Consultations with other specialists are also possible.

 

    Consultations and examinations take 2 days.

STAGE 3. DRAFTING A PERSONAL TREATMENT PLAN

The treatment with proton therapy is always personal. The cyclotron is readjusted for the characteristics of each patient. These settings take into account the depth of the tumor, its volume and size, and the patient’s state of health.

 

To irradiate tumors of the head and neck, special immobilizing masks are made for a person. They must fit perfectly to the patient’s proportions.Depending on the stage of the cancer, the patient will be given a short course of chemotherapy before the proton therapy.

 

    It can take up to 4 days to develop a personalized treatment plan.

STAGE 4. PROTON TREATMENT PROCESS

The duration of treatment is individual. Typically, patients are prescribed 20 to 40 sessions. They take place daily, Monday through Friday. One session takes up to 60 minutes, of which 45 minutes is setting up the device. After it, a person is free and can do everyday things: work remotely, admire the sights of Madrid, spend time with loved ones.

 

The patient meets with his oncologist every week to discuss the progress of treatment. The doctor monitors how quickly the tumor decreases and the patient’s health. In addition, the good news motivates the patient to continue with the treatment and gives hope for recovery.

 

    How does proton irradiation work? What are the impressions of patient Sofia from the treatment process?

    I thought that it would be painful and took courage in advance. It turned out that when irradiated with protons, you … do not feel anything! It feels like you just lie there and nothing happens! And after a week it turns out that the cancer is receding and everything is getting better. This is amazing! I also liked the mask. I felt like in the distant future. I just can’t believe we have such a futuristic method!

Feelings from proton therapy

 

    The duration of proton therapy oncology treatment is 4 to 8 weeks.

STAGE 5. END OF TREATMENT AND RECOVERY

At the end of the treatment, the doctor provides a full report on the results of treatment. The patient also receives advice on medication, diet and lifestyle to help prevent recurrence of the disease. The doctor will also tell what examinations should be taken and how often to repeat them. The patient can take them at home.

STORY OF A PATIENT

Пациентка вылечила медуллобластому 4 стадии протонной терапией

At the age of 16, Sabrina was diagnosed with stage 4 medulloblastoma. The girl suffered from headaches, squint, fatigue, and nausea. The disease progressed so quickly that doctors had to perform a 6-hour operation to remove the tumor. But this could not completely cure the disease, since the neoplasm grew near vital areas of the brain. Sabrina needed proton therapy to save her life. Irradiation with protons could destroy cancer cells where the surgeon’s scalpel could not reach. Radiation therapy was too risky because it could affect the development of the adolescent’s mental and motor skills.

 

Proton therapy courses helped Sabrina go into remission. Now she is attending school and preparing to enter the university. Sabrina and her parents are glad that surgery and proton therapy saved her life in such a dire condition.


 

    Summary

    иконка галочки Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center in Spain is the most modern clinic where “pencil beam” tumor irradiation is available. Using the example of this clinic, we described the treatment procedure in detail. 

    иконка галочкиTreatment with proton therapy takes place in 5 stages: sending anamnesis to the clinic and receiving an invitation for treatment, diagnostics, drawing up an individual treatment plan, therapy itself and the evaluation of the results. 

    иконка галочки The entire treatment period will take about 3 months. During this time, the one need to find yourself a place to live. 

    иконка галочки Proton therapy courses are highly personalized and planned separately for each patient, taking into account his or her health condition.  

 

MediGlobus will make your proton therapy journey even easier. Our coordinating doctors will register you at the center without waiting in line, help to open a medical visa, translate documents and arrange an interpreter on the territory of the clinic. Leave your application and we will answer all your questions!

How is proton therapy performed at the Quironsalud Proton Therapy Center?

Get a free consultation

 


Sources:

 

  1. 1. The National Assosiation for Proton Therapy
  2. 2. National Cancer Institute
  3. 3. IBA group


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