About Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer. Just as with conventional radiation therapy, protons treat tumors by directing radiation into the tumor site where doses of radiation destroy cancerous cells.

However, unlike conventional radiation therapy, in which x-ray beams deposit their energy into the healthy tissue prior to entry and upon exit of the tumor site, the timing and dosage of protons’ energy can be controlled, allowing the maximum energy to be deposited directly into the tumor and reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue. This limits the risk of negative side effects such as skin burns, fatigue and impact to bodily functions that are a routine part of conventional radiation treatment.

How it Works

When doses of protons (positively charged parts of an atom) enter the body, they deposit most of their energy at a specific target, destroying cancerous cells and preserving surrounding healthy tissue. This differs from conventional radiation, which uses x-rays that have a higher entrance dose and exit dose before and after the tumor. Therefore, reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue and critical organs. The result is a lower chance for side effects and secondary cancers.

Our treatment rooms use pencil beam scanning, which further increases the precision of radiation.

Our treatment rooms use pencil beam scanning which further increases the precision of proton therapy, allowing the tumor to be directly targeted with aggressive doses of radiation. Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS) allows clinicians to treat or “paint” a tumor using the proton beam at a precisely configured range, and to adjust the intensity of the beam to achieve the appropriate dose. PBS has truly revolutionized proton therapy, offering increased flexibility in dose shaping and improved dose conformality. Therefore, clinicians can treat larger and more complex tumors, while at the same time sparing more healthy tissue. Large and non-contiguous targets benefit especially from pencil beam scanning proton therapy. Clinicians can deliver high doses of proton radiation therapy and sculpt doses to the complex shape of an individual tumor—and therefore can be used for tumors next to critical structures. Pencil beam scanning proton therapy, produces fewer neutrons, further reducing doses to normal, healthy tissue. In the vast majority of cases, pencil beam scanning requires no beam-modifying devices, physical compensator or apertures which allows for rapid, flexible re-planning without the need to fabricate, and manually insert, new beam-shaping devices.

How do I know if it’s for me?

A non-invasive treatment, proton therapy for cancer is best used to treat individuals with a localized tumor, in which the cancer has not spread to other parts of the body and in situations in which tumors cannot be removed surgically or, in some cases, require radiation therapy in addition to surgery. Proton therapy may be combined with other treatment options, depending on the specific details of your case.

We’d love to talk to you about whether proton beam therapy is right for you, please contact us for more information on how to get started.

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