Proton Therapy

Frequently Asked Questions

How does proton therapy work in relation to other mainstream radiation therapy and chemotherapy? 

  • Proton therapy is the most precise, most advanced form of radiation treatment available today. It primarily radiates the tumor site, leaving surrounding healthy tissue and organs intact. Conventional x-ray radiation often radiates and damages healthy tissue in its path and surrounding the tumor site. Chemotherapy moves throughout the entire body, unlike radiation and surgery which are considered "site specific" treatments.

What are the side effects from proton therapy? 

  • Minimal to none, compared to conventional forms of radiation. It is more easily tolerated than standard radiation therapy.

What kinds of tumors are best treated by proton therapy? 

  • Those that are localized and have not spread to distant areas of the body.

 

 

How would I know if proton therapy is the appropriate treatment option for me or a loved one? 

  • Do your homework. Learn as much as possible about all the treatment options available for your condition. Ask lots of questions and discuss them thoroughly with your doctors.

Can proton therapy be used in conjunction with other forms of cancer treatment? 

  • Yes. Depending on the case, proton therapy may be used in combination with traditional radiation, chemotherapy and/or as a follow-up to surgery.

Why hasn’t my doctor mentioned proton therapy as a cancer treatment option? 

  • Proton therapy was first proposed in 1954 but primarily had been available for very limited use. The first hospital-based proton treatment centers in the world was only opened in 1990. Most radiation oncologist know about it but have not worked with the technology. This means it’s difficult for them to advise patients about it. Today, proton treatment is spreading throughout the United States.

How long does proton therapy take? How soon will I know if the treatment is successful?

  • Proton therapy can take anywhere from one day to seven or eight weeks, depending on the location of the tumor. The length of treatment time will also decrease over time as heavier doses are used. With most cancer cases, success is determined if the cancer does not return within five years after treatment.

Does proton therapy cost more than conventional forms of cancer treatment? Is it covered by most insurance plans?

  • Nearly all insurance providers nationwide cover proton therapy as does the U.S. Medicare program. Proton therapy costs more than conventional radiation but generally less than surgery.