Neutron beam therapy is a specialized form of external beam radiation therapy. It is often used to treat inoperable tumors or tumors that are radioresistant, meaning that they are very resistant to conventional X-ray radiation therapy. Neutrons have a greater biologic impact on cells than other types of radiation. Used carefully, this added impact can be an advantage in certain situations. Neutron therapy is available at only a few specialized centers. Certain tumors seem to be more susceptible to the cytotoxic effects of neutrons, including salivary gland tumors.
According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) supports the use of this modality for salivary gland tumors. There are studies that sugest that it is beneficial for prostate, lung and some sarcomas. An assessment of the evidence for neutron beam radiotherapy prepared by the Australia and New Zealand Horizon Scanning Network found that NBT is a promising technology. The assessment cautioned, however, that “[t]he studies identified in this prioritising summary were not of high quality and, as such, the conclusions must be taken as preliminary in nature.”
There is insufficient support to consider it appropriate for melanoma.
Lodge M, Pijls-Johannesma M, Stirk L, et al. A systematic literature review of the clinical and cost-effectiveness of hadron therapy in cancer. Radiother Oncol. 2007; 83(2):110-122.
Smith RP, Heron DE, Huq MS, Yue NJ. Modern radiation treatment planning and delivery–from Rontgen to real time. Hematol Oncol Clin North Am. 2006; 20(1):45-62.
Government Agency, Medical Society, and Other Authoritative Publications:
American Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology (ASTRO). External Beam Radiation Treatments. Available at: http://www.rtanswers.org/treatment/external_beam.htm#neutron
Purins A, Mundy L, Hiller J. Boron neutron capture therapy for cancer treatment. Horizon Scanning Prioritising Summary. Adelaide, SA: Adelaide Health Technology Assessment (AHTA); October 2007.