Have questions about proton therapy, how it works and if it’s right for you? See answers to some of the most common questions we receive here.

If your question isn’t answered here, please contact us!

What is proton therapy?

Proton therapy is similar to conventional radiation therapy but, due to its precision, reduces the risk and impact of side effects and the likelihood of cancer recurrence. It has become the gold standard for accurately targeting tumors and minimizing damage to healthy tissues.

What makes proton different from conventional radiation?

Unlike conventional photons and x-rays, protons deposit their maximum energy into a patient’s tumor, then stop, preserving healthy tissue. The use of proton therapy reduces the amount of collateral tissue damage, side effects and secondary tumors.

Why should I choose Provision CARES Proton Therapy?

Provision CARES Proton Therapy is a member of the Provision CARES Cancer Center, a comprehensive cancer campus, which includes many specialties to assist a patient during their treatment. The Provision CARES Cancer Center includes a state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging center, traditional radiation therapy, clinical trials, women’s and men’s specialty services, physical therapy, wellness center and chemotherapy. These services are located on one beautiful campus in Knoxville which is easy to navigate and to get from one appointment to another.

The Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center also partners with its sister company, the Center for Biomedical Research, to offer patients the latest in oncology clinical trials to continue to advance proton therapy to benefit future patients who receive a cancer diagnosis.

The proton center itself is equipped with the latest proton therapy delivery equipment which provides pencil beam scanning in each treatment room. The equipment is in the hands of a team of experts. Our radiation oncology, physics, dosimetry and therapy teams have combined for decades of radiation oncology experience including experience treating at multiple proton centers before joining the Provision team. Our team of Care Coordinators and Financial Coordinators are available to answer questions for prospective patients about their cases and to provide guidance on how to navigate the confusing insurance approval process. The Care team strives to provide each patient world-class, personalized care.

What will the treatment process involve?

Before you come for your first consult, Provision must collect your medical records to fully evaluate your treatment options. Many patients will automatically qualify to be scheduled for consult based on their diagnosis. All other patients will have their case presented at our case review where all of our specialists gather to determine the best course of treatment for patients. After case review, we will contact you to schedule your next appointment whether it is with Provision or one of our campus partners.

While we are gathering and reviewing your medical records, we have a team of individuals dedicated to making the process as convenient as possible. This includes a financial team who works to make sure your treatment is covered by insurance. They are available to work with you before consult should you have any questions or concerns. We also have a Patient Experience team that can help organize travel and housing accommodations if you are coming from outside the area.

After you have been scheduled for consult, a Care Coordinator will send you a link to our online patient portal where you can complete registration paperwork prior to your appointment. This saves you time at your initial consult and provides you your medical records, educational materials, and functions as a communication tool so you can contact our staff whenever you have questions.

On the day of your first consult, you should plan to arrive 15 minutes early if you have completed your registration on the patient portal, or 30 minutes early if you have not. As you enter our the facility, the Patient Concierge at the front desk will greet you and make sure that you are fully registered and the Clinical staff have been alerted to your arrival. Once you are brought back to the consult room, you will meet with your nurse who will do a standard new patient assessment. This includes a historical assessment, medication reconciliation, risk assessments, general radiotherapy education, and more. If you would like, a family member, caregiver or significant other may accompany you to the consult room. Then you will meet a medical provider who will perform a physical exam and discuss your treatment options. After your medical consult, you will have the opportunity to meet with our patient experience, financial services (insurance), or clinical trials team. If you would like to meet with one of these teams at consult, please inform your Care Coordinator when you first contact us to have a consult scheduled.

After your consult, the next step is to get scheduled for treatment. There are a series of pre-treatment appointments that can occur including imaging, marker placement, and treatment planning. Depending on the treatment site, these appointments can be scheduled on the same day or on separate days. For your convenience, we can schedule these appointments after your consult before you leave the center. After your imaging appointments, the doctor and dosimetrist will work on a treatment plan specifically for your care. This usually takes around 5-10 business days but can take longer for especially complex cases. As you are completing the CT appointment the therapist assisting you with the CT will ask for you for your preferred daily treatment time. The therapy team will call you with specific start date, time, and instructions once your treatment plan is approved. Your first treatment appointment will occur on a Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday. From here, the treatment begins. Daily treatments range anywhere from 15 – 45 minutes (prostate treatments take 15 to 30 minutes) and will typically continue for 4-8 weeks. The therapist will walk through the daily process of treatment and answer any questions you have when they call you to schedule your first treatment appointment. Prior to beginning treatment at Provision CARES Proton Therapy, all patients will have the opportunity to attend an orientation lunch where more specific information about what to expect during treatment is provided.

Which cancers can be treated with proton therapy?

Common Cancers:

  • Bone Cancer
  • Brain Cancer
  • Eye Cancer
  • Head and Neck Cancer
  • Hodgkin Lymphoma
  • Lung Cancer
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Pediatric Cancer
    • Brain Tumors
    • Pediatric Sarcoma
    • Retinoblastoma
    • Neuroblastoma
    • Lymphomas
    • Other Rare Tumors
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Sarcoma
Learn More

How do I know if I’m a candidate for proton therapy?

Our collaborative team of experts will gather and receive your medical records to determine if proton therapy is the best course of treatment for you. If so, a consultation visit will be scheduled. Please call our center today to speak with a care coordinator and determine if you are a candidate for proton therapy treatment.

Will my insurance cover proton therapy?

Proton therapy treatment is covered by Medicare and most major insurance providers for certain diagnosis. Our team will work with your insurance company to determine your benefits. We will be sure to clearly communicate the details of your coverage with you and respond to any questions you may have.

Can children be treated with proton therapy?

Because they are still growing, children and teens are particularly sensitive to damage from radiation treatments. Though the original cancer may be treated successfully, radiation exposure in other organs can lead to future problems. Proton therapy’s precise ability to target tumors and reduce radiation exposure to these other organs has tremendous value when treating pediatric cancers. As a result, children with cancer can receive therapeutic doses with fewer side effects and a reduced chance of radiation-induced secondary cancers. Treatment can be enhanced for some patients given proton therapy’s precision. Aggressive cancers can be treated with higher doses, and recurrent cancers can be targeted despite previous radiation treatments.

Is proton therapy ever combined with other treatment options?

Depending on a patient’s diagnosis, proton therapy is often a component of the broader course of treatment including surgery or chemotherapy.

What amenities will be available during my stay?

Located on the Provision Healthcare campus at Dowell Springs, we offer access to a state-of-the-art health & wellness center, scenic walking trails and concierge service for convenient access to fun and engaging opportunities in East Tennessee.

What support services are available for me at Provision CARES Proton Therapy?

As part of the treatment process, the Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center will provide a wide range of services to complement your proton therapy treatment.

  • Ambassadors: Provision CARES Proton Therapy is home to the Provision Ambassador program. The Ambassador program consists of former patients and family members who are passionate about the benefits of proton therapy. This program is available to offer support to newly diagnosed or potential proton therapy patients. To connect with an Ambassador in your area contact Ambassadors@provisionproton.com.
  • Financial Coordinators: As part of the consultation process, you will be assigned a financial coordinator who will provide information regarding your specific insurance plan and benefits. During the insurance approval process, your financial coordinator will contact you regularly with updates on the status of your insurance coverage.
  • Nutritional Services: Maintaining a balanced and healthy diet is important when undergoing cancer treatment. Provision provides all patients with nutritional guidance through one on one consultations with our staff dietician, as well as, weekly group nutrition sessions help to encourage patients to make healthy choices during and after treatment.
  • Patient Experience Department: The patient experience department provides the most up to date information on hotel, extended stay, and fully furnished rental properties in the area. Along, with accommodation services, the patient experience department will provide information for social activities, community events, and patient programs held at the proton center.
  • Social Work: Our social worker is available to guide you to community resources and cancer specific support groups. In some cases, community resources may be available to assist with the financial burden of undergoing cancer treatment.

If I’m traveling to the Provision CARES Proton Therapy, are there convenient housing options for my family and me?

Yes! Our campuses are conveniently located. To discover various hotels in the area, feel free to contact our concierge service by emailing concierge@provisionproton.com.