Baldev Patyal. "Dosimetry Aspects of Proton Therapy." Technology in Cancer Research and Treatment 6.4 (2007): 17-23. ( 8/2007 )
High-energy photons and high-energy protons are very different in the ways they interact with matter. These differences lead to distinct advantages of protons over photons for treatment of cancer. Some aspects of proton interactions with tissue that make this modality superior for treating cancer are: (i) Initially, the protons lose energy very slowly as they enter the body; this results in a low entrance dose and low doses to the normal tissues proximal to the tumor. (ii) Near the end of range, protons lose energy very rapidly and deposit all their energy over a very small volume before they come to rest. This is the Bragg peak, a property that results in delivery of the maximum dose to the tumor. (iii) Beyond the Bragg peak, the energy deposited by the protons is zero; no dose is received by normal tissues distal to the tumor. Therefore, protons deliver their maximum dose to the tumor, a low dose to normal structures proximal to the tumor, and no dose to the normal structures beyond the tumor, ideal properties of a radiation modality to treat cancer. One distinct advantage of protons over photons is the ease with which the tumor target can be irradiated conformably to a high dose, and at the same time the normal structures in the vicinity of the tumor can be protected conformably from that high dose. Given the same dose to the tumor via photons and protons, protons inherently deliver less integral dose and thus lead to fewer normal-tissue complications. In addition, proton interactions also offer distinct radiobiological advantages over photons. Superior physical and radiobiological proton interactions lead naturally to the concepts of dose escalation and hypofractionation. The superiority of treatment delivery with protons as contrasted with photons is demonstrated by treatment plans.