Loma Linda, CA, USA | LLU&MC TODAY/ANN Staff

A new treatment for breast cancer is to be developed using proton therapy at Loma Linda University and Medical Center, a health and educational facility owned and operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church.

For the past ten years, the Loma Linda University and Medical Center Proton Treatment Center has built a solid reputation for treating prostate cancer patients with non-invasive proton therapy. More than 3,000 men have completed proton treatment, and studies show that the overall disease-free survival rate is 89 percent. Now, Loma Linda University engineers, physicists, and physicians are turning their attention to the needs of women with breast cancer. The planned Proton Treatment Center “scanning” method will help breast cancer patients.

One out of every nine American women will develop breast cancer sometime during her life (if she lives to the age of 85). This year, 180,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer and 43,500 will die of the disease. It is the most common form of cancer in women and the second-leading cause of cancer death for women, after lung cancer. If a cancer is found early, it is more than 90 percent likely to be completely curable.

Until now, treatment options have included surgery, standard x-ray therapy, and chemotherapy. Within the next two years, these options will increase as Loma Linda University personnel begin enhancing and modifying the proton beam therapy system by adding a new technique known as “scanning.” This new, non-invasive proton option will provide an extra dimension in the treatment of breast cancer, minus the traditional side effects.

In about two years, with the modifications taking place at Loma Linda University and Medical Center’s Proton Treatment Center, protons can be safely placed into the breast and lymphatic vessels and nodes with much more precision than is now possible with standard x-ray therapy. The superior distribution of the proton beam allows for its placement in the tumor while sparing surrounding healthy cells and tissue.

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