The use of proton therapy to treat patients with prostate cancer increased more than 2-fold from 2004 to 2012, a study published in the journal Cancer has shown.1

For the study, researchers sought to characterize the national trends in proton therapy use for the treatment of patients with prostate cancer and identify factors associated with receipt of this treatment option.

Researchers analyzed data from 187 730 men with nonmetastatic prostate cancer diagnosed between 2004 and 2012 who were included in the National Cancer Data Base. All patients had received external beam radiotherapy (EBRT) as their initial form of definitive therapy.

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Results showed the rate of proton therapy use increased from 2.3% in 2004 to 5.2% in 2011 to 4.8% in 2012.

Researchers found that EBRT was much more likely to be delivered at an academic compared with nonacademic center. In addition, proton therapy was more likely to be given to patients who were white, younger, healthier, from metropolitan areas, from areas of higher median household incomes, and who did not have advanced-stage or high-grade disease.

After adjusting for confounding factors, the study demonstrated that black and Hispanic patients were significantly less likely to receive proton therapy than white patients.

“Long-term follow-up is needed to determine whether the increased use of proton therapy for prostate cancer is justified, and ongoing efforts should be made to ensure equal access to resource-limited oncologic therapies,” the authors conclude.


1. Mahal BA, Chen Y-W, Efstathiou JA, et al. National trends and determinants of proton therapy use for prostate cancer: a National Cancer Data Base study [published online ahead of print March 11, 2016]. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.29960.