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Cancer treatment's future depends on research

Which is better? Traditional radiation treatments or proton therapy touted by Mayo Clinic and others as the future of cancer therapy?

MD Anderson Cancer Center is working on research to answer that question, and Mayo Clinic is expected to participate in the study at its new proton therapy center.

Dr. Ritsuko Komaki said the goal with targeted "pencil beam" proton therapy is to make it work in four dimensions — front, back, side and time (or movement).

The goal, expected to be reached before Mayo opens its first new treatment rooms in 2014, is to be able to treat a moving target, such as a chest tumor that moves when the patient breaths.

All Mayo patients are expected to be asked to be included in research to help build a database showing effectiveness (demonstrated in previous studies), complication rate and cost. The study will ask:


• Can proton therapy function as well or better than conventional radiation treatment?

• Can it function well without causing harm to surrounding tissue, unlike conventional therapy?

• Can it be more cost-effective than traditional radiation?

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