Proton therapy for non-small cell lung cancer: the road ahead

Eric D. Brooks, Matthew S. Ning, Vivek Verma, X. Ronald Zhu, Joe Y. Chang


Proton therapy is an evolving radiotherapy modality with indication for numerous cancer types. With the benefits of reducing dose and sparing normal tissue, protons offer a clear physical and dosimetric advantage over photon radiotherapy for many patients. However, its impact on one type of disease, non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), is still not fully understood. Our review aims to highlight the data for using proton therapy in NSCLC, with a focus on the clinical data—or lack thereof—supporting proton treatment for early and advanced stage disease. In evaluating these data, we consider how future directions and advances in proton technology give rise for hope in defining a role for protons in improving NSCLC outcomes. We close with considerations for next steps and the challenges ahead in using proton therapy for this unique patient population.