Annual Survey Shows Surge in Cancer Patients Treated With Proton Therapy & in Number of Indications

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 26, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Over the past four years, the number of proton therapy centers has doubled and a growing number of patients are being treated for an increasing variety of cancers.

A recently completed survey of proton therapy centers in the U.S., shows that the annual number of patients treated with proton therapy has increased significantly from when the survey was first launched in 2012.   The number of patients treated in 2016 was 70% higher than the number of patients treated in the first survey completed in 2012.  In that time, the number of centers offering proton therapy has more than doubled, reflecting the growing knowledge among patients and healthcare providers of the clinical benefits of proton therapy. 

Among the more than 14 types of cancer indications tracked by the survey, several saw significant increases in the number of cases treated with proton therapy. These included tumors of the central nervous system, which grew by 95 percent between 2012 and 2016 and head and neck cancer, which more than tripled. 

The number of pediatric cases treated with proton therapy increased by 62% between 2012 and 2016, according to the survey, with recognition that proton therapy offers lower radiation doses to children’s developing bodies and brains. Studies have demonstrated that cancer survivors can have up to 25 percent increased risk of developing secondary, radiation-induced tumors when treated with conventional radiotherapy. 

Breast cancer saw the highest jump among all disease types, with more than seven times the number of cases in 2016 than in 2012 and a 57 percent increase from 2015 to 2016. Studies have shown patients, particularly those diagnosed with cancer of the left breast, receive doses of radiation through conventional radiation therapy that put them at significantly higher risk for heart disease later in life.

Proton therapy provides the benefits of conventional radiation therapy, but their nature as high speed particles allows protons to be more precisely conformed for treatment. Thus, high doses of radiation can be targeted at a tumor without a resulting exit dose and with significantly less damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs. Patients experience fewer side effects and reduced risk of secondary cancer and other long-term health problems. 

“The NAPT’s annual survey gives us a great snapshot of the growth of proton therapy in the U.S. It is interesting to note that while proton therapy has received significant criticism for focusing on treatment of prostate cancer, that number has dropped from 43 percent of patients treated in 2012 to 28 percent in 2016. In my experience, that is close to the percentage treated in conventional radiation therapy clinics,” said Scott Warwick, Executive Director of the NAPT. “It is clear that healthcare providers across the country are recognizing proton therapy as an effective weapon in the arsenal against cancer and patients are reaping the benefits.” 

About The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT): 

The National Association for Proton Therapy is an independent nonprofit organization founded in 1990 to educate and increase awareness about the clinical benefits of proton therapy.  The NAPT’s mission is to;

  1. work collaboratively to educate and raise awareness of the clinical benefits of proton therapy among patients, providers, clinicians, payers, policymakers, and other stakeholders;
  2. ensure patient choice and access to affordable proton therapy;
  3. and encourage cooperative research and innovation to advance the appropriate and cost-effective utilization of proton therapy.

The NAPT’s supporting members are world-renowned cancer centers, a number of whom are National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers and National Comprehensive Care Network (NCCN) members.  A full list of our members may be found at:


A photo accompanying this announcement is available at


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