HOUSTON, Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Pencil beam scanning technology, an even more advanced and targeted form of radiation treatment known as proton therapy, is now being used to treat patients with lung cancer at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. 
Proton therapy  derives its advantage over conventional forms of radiation from its ability to deliver radiation doses to a targeted tumor with incredible precision that avoids surrounding tissue. This results in fewer side effects during and after treatment, and greater tumor control. Most proton patients are treated with a technique known as passive scattering, which uses apertures to shape the proton beam and deliver a uniform dose to the tumor.
Pencil beam scanning proton therapy  delivers a single, narrow proton beam (which may be less than a millimeter in diameter) that is magnetically swept across the tumor, depositing radiation like a painter's brush, without the need to construct beam-shaping devices. This technology continues to build on the patient benefits already offered with proton therapy – more targeted, higher tumor dose, shorter treatment times, reduced side effects and increased treatment options.
"The advantage lies in the beam's capacity to approach the tumor from multiple directions, creating a "U" shape around these structures and avoiding them entirely during treatment," said James D. Cox, M.D. , professor and head of the Division of Radiation Oncology at MD Anderson. "Pencil beam is more like a very fine airbrush. Instead of needing a brass template to define the sh