October 23, 2013 -- The number of children with brain and spinal cancers treated with radiation at proton therapy centers in the U.S. has risen 33% since 2010.
That's according to a study released by the Pediatric Proton Foundation and the National Association for Proton Therapy.
In 2012, 694 children were treated with proton therapy, compared with 465 in 2010 and 613 in 2011. Fifty-seven percent of pediatric patients treated with proton therapy last year were younger than 10 years old and had curable brain tumors or axial sarcomas, according to the survey.
Proton therapy uses high-speed particles that can be more precisely targeted to treat the tumor while sparing healthy tissue, the groups said. Lower radiation dose is especially important for children, as the risk of secondary radiation-induced tumors may reach 25% in long-term survivors treated with conventional radiotherapy.