What is Proton Therapy?
Proton Therapy Offers a Targeted, Individualized Approach to Cancer Treatment
Proton therapy is a highly advanced technique that allows radiation oncologists to target tumors with the maximum cancer-destroying capabilities of radiation while decreasing dose to healthy tissue and organs. Proton therapy is an effective treatment option for adults and children with specific types of cancer.
Protons are most successful in treating solid tumors with well-defined borders that have not spread. It is most often used for tumors of the brain, head, neck, lungs and spine. Due to the decrease in unnecessary dose to uninvolved, normal tissues, children and young adults stand to benefit the most from this type of radiation therapy.
Benefits of Proton Therapy
Proton therapy offers a targeted treatment option for cancer that includes:
- Less radiation to healthy tissue
- Can be used with chemotherapy or surgery, as needed
- May lower risk for radiation-induced secondary cancers, developmental delays and growth abnormalities among children and young adults
- Anesthesia or sedation can be used during proton therapy treatment sessions, if needed
How It Is Different
Both proton therapy and traditional radiation treat tumors in the same way: by either killing cancer cells or inhibiting their growth. The most significant difference between the two is that proton beams travel to a specific depth and then stop, rather than continuing through the body. This provides a proportionately higher dose in the tumor, and relatively less in surrounding normal tissues. Learn more about the technology.
Conventional radiation therapy uses X-ray, or photon, beams. Photon beams enter the body, depositing significant energy in healthy tissue before and after they pass through the tumor. The photons’ lack of charge and mass means most of their energy is deposited in normal tissues near the body's surface, as well as areas of the body beyond the site of the cancer.
Similar to conventional high energy X-rays, proton therapy is an external beam radiation therapy technique. The difference is that protons are larger and heavier charged particles that deposit radiation dose in a more targeted manner. By changing the energy of the proton beam, radiation oncologists can tailor the proton dose to the specific depth and shape of the tumor, while greatly reducing the dose to surrounding healthy tissue.
To contact the UH Proton Therapy Center, call 216-286-7768.