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. 

Is proton therapy better for prostate cancer?

  • A recent study suggests that proton therapy for prostate cancer has better results than traditional radiation. Patients had 5-year freedom from progression of disease rates of 99%, 99%, and 76% for low, medium, and high risk prostate cancer respectively. These rates are substantially better than what other studies have shown for traditional radiation, commonly referred to as Intensity Modulated Radiation Therapy (IMRT). Patients also reported lower incidence of bladder and bowel toxicity which is a key benefit of proton therapy. Read the full study here.

What are the side effects from proton therapy? 

  • Minimal to none, compared to conventional forms of radiation. There can be skin redness around the part of your body being treated. It is usually 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, preferably an oncologist experienced in treating proton therapy patients.

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.

How long does proton therapy take?

  • 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.

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.

How can I find out if proton therapy is an option for me?

  • You or your doctor can contact the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center to determine if it’s right for you.  Only a specialist in radiation therapy—a radiation oncologist—can decide if proton therapy could be the best option for you.

To find out more, please contact Willis-Knighton Cancer Center at 318-212-8300.  You may also inquire about Proton Therapy via email at