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Health Spotlight: Flash proton therapy – a new form of radiation treatment

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — University of Cincinnati researchers are conducting the first trials of radiation treatment that they say holds promise in treating tough-to-kill tumors.

The researchers are delivering the radiation with proton therapy, a procedure that uses a large, specialized machine called a gantry.

Kelly Murphy was 11 years old when he started having pounding headaches that subsequently resulted in doctors diagnosing him with a brain tumor.

The best treatment available for Murphy was proton therapy delivered by a gantry. Murphy had to wear a special mask to ensure his head stayed stable during the treatment.

After receiving many sessions of traditional proton therapy and chemo, Murphy was able to ring chimes signaling the end of this his treatment. At 18, he is now cancer free.

Researchers are now studying flash proton therapy in humans, which delivers proton radiation up to one thousand times faster than what is clinically used today. Researchers say that this form of treatment could be delivered in half a second, as opposed to the minute proton therapy treatment takes now.

Doctors are hoping that flash proton therapy could be able to cure kids with brain tumors that are difficult to treat now, but as the treatment is still in clinical trials, the patients must be adults. They are hoping the findings of the trial will allow them to expand.

The pre-clinical trials in animals suggested that flash proton therapy could safely deliver treatment with fewer side effects. The university’s trials previously focused on patients with bone cancer, and are hoping to study adults with cancers that are closer to the lungs and heart in the upcoming trials.

Health Spotlight is presented by Community Health Network. This story was created from a script aired on WISH-TV.