Proton Therapy Fact Sheet
- Proton therapy, a form of radiation treatment without many of the short- and long-term side effects often experienced with standard radiation therapy, is an advanced cancer treatment for specific types of tumors.
- Studies have shown proton therapy to be effective in treating brain, head and neck, central nervous system, lung, pediatric, and prostate tumors as well as cancers that cannot be removed completely by surgery. Research is showing promising results in the treatment of other tumors.1
- As with standard radiation therapy (which uses photons or X-rays), proton therapy kills cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. The difference between the two therapies is that protons deposit much of their energy (radiation) directly in the tumor, allowing patients to receive higher, more effective doses, and reducing damage to healthy tissue near the tumor.2
- Research shows proton therapy can cause fewer short- and long-term side effects than standard radiation therapy, reduce the occurrence of secondary tumors and improve patients’ quality of life.1,3,4
- Because it is so targeted, proton therapy can be particularly effective in treating children, who are more sensitive than adults to the effects of radiation. Precise targeting also can make proton therapy ideal for treating tumors near vital organs.4
- Proton therapy is safe, non-invasive and painless for most patients. It does not require an overnight stay in the hospital. Treatments are usually given five-days-a-week, for a period of four to eight weeks. The total number of treatments needed depends on the location and size of the tumor. A treatment session generally takes 15 to 45 minutes, however the actual time spent delivering the protons to the tumor is generally only about a minute or two.
- Proton therapy patients avoid many of the side effects inherent in all therapies that use X-ray radiation, including IMRT or radiosurgeries.3,5
- Unlike X-ray radiation, proton therapy can be used at the same time as chemotherapy because it does not affect bone marrow.5
- Even when standard radiation is the best alternative for a patient, there is a point at which no further therapy can be tolerated and treatment must be stopped. Proton therapy is an option for some of those patients.3,5
- The number of patients with cancer who may benefit from proton therapy – as many as a quarter of a million – far surpasses the small number of treatment slots – about 11,000 – available in the United States.
- Proton therapy is not experimental. More than 67,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at centers in Europe, Asia and the United States. It was first used to treat patients in 1955 in a research setting, but its use was limited because imaging techniques could not accurately pinpoint tumors. Following advances made in imaging technology such as CT imaging, MRI, and PET scans, the first hospital-based treatment center opened in California in 1990. To date, more than 31,000 people have received proton therapy in the United States and more than 64,000 people have been treated worldwide. 6
- Many U.S. insurance providers cover proton therapy as does the U.S Medicare program and many state Medicaid programs.
- Currently, there are 12 proton therapy treatment centers in the U.S. that treat a range of tumors:
- Loma Linda University Proton Therapy Center, Loma Linda, Calif.
- Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston
- IU Health Proton Therapy Center (formerly Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute), Bloomington, Ind.
- University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center’s Proton Therapy Center, Houston
- University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute (UFPTI), Jacksonville
- The ProCure Proton Therapy Center, Oklahoma City, opened July 8, 2009
- University of Pennsylvania Roberts Proton Therapy Center, Philadelphia
- Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, Hampton, Va.
- CDH Proton Center, Warrenville, Ill., opened Oct. 19, 2010
- ProCure Proton Therapy Center, Somerset, N.J., opened March 20, 2012
- SCCA Proton Therapy, Seattle, opened March 7, 2013
- University of California, Davis has a specialized proton center that treats only ocular (eye) cancers
- Additional treatment centers are currently under construction in the United States including:
- Kling Center for Proton Therapy at the Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Jewish Hospital/Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, St. Louis – opening 2012
- Scripps Proton Therapy Center, San Diego – opening 2013
- Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Program, Rochester – opening 2015
- Mayo Clinic Proton Beam Therapy Program, Tucson – opening 2016
- A number of other hospitals and academic institutions have announced plans for proton therapy centers.
- S. Ternier, Ph.D. Proton Therapy White Paper. On file.
- Fowler J. What Can We Expect from Dose Escalation Using Proton Beams. Clinical Oncology 2003,15:S10-S15
- MacDonald S., DeLaney T. and Loeffler J. Proton Beam Radiation Therapy. Radiation Oncology 2006, 24:199-208.
- Potential reduction of the incidence of radiation-induced second cancers by using proton beam in the treatment of pediatric tumors. Int J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 2002;54(3) 824-829.
- Current Status of Radiotherapy with Proton and Light Ion Beams. Cancer January 2007
- PTCOG 12/2011
Web site: www.procure.com
Media Contact: Sky Opila, PCI