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Proton therapy is effective in treating many types of cancerous and non-cancerous tumors.
Proton therapy can precisely target your tumor, reducing damage to healthy tissue near the tumor and potentially allowing you to receive higher, more effective doses of radiation.1 Proton therapy not only effectively targets a tumor, but it can also be used in combination with chemotherapy, as a follow-up treatment to surgery, and in combination with standard X-ray radiation treatment.
Learn more about the benefits of proton therapy.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing—the same as with standard X-ray radiation. Proton therapy uses protons—positively charged atomic particles—instead of the photons used in standard X-ray radiation therapy.
With proton therapy, doctors can precisely target the tumor while minimizing damage to the surrounding, healthy tissue. Unlike X-ray radiation (such as intensity-modulated radiation therapy [IMRT]), protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop. For example, in prostate cancer, proton therapy eliminates about 60% of excess radiation delivered to healthy tissues surrounding the prostate compared to IMRT.
Proton therapy allows for a higher radiation dosage to be delivered to the tumor site, while minimizing damage to healthy tissues that surround the tumor.1,2 Standard X-ray radiation, on the other hand, releases radiation from the moment it penetrates your skin all the way through to the other side of the tumor. The potential for damage to healthy tissue and organs is higher (see chart below).
How proton therapy works
Protons and X-rays both destroy cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. The difference is in their delivery. Protons deliver their radiation at exact depths to precisely targeted tumors. Much of their radiation is deposited exactly at the tumor site and then stops.1 X-rays, on the other hand, release their maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin, potentially damaging healthy tissue and organs on their way to the tumor and as they pass through your body beyond the tumor.1
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Visit our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to some common questions.
Studies on EffectivenessResearchers around the world have studied the effectiveness of proton therapy. A growing number of studies report on the effectiveness of proton therapy and its benefits compared to other cancer treatments. The amount of research being conducted on proton therapy is rapidly increasing as more centers open and more patient experiences become available.For more information on recent studies and publications, please review the Clinical Literature.
Is proton therapy new?Proton therapy is not new. The first patient received treatment with protons more than 50 years ago, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved proton therapy as a radiation treatment option in 1988. To date, more than 90,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at cancer centers in Europe, Asia, and the United States.1 Many private insurance companies, Medicare, and many state Medicaid programs cover its cost.
Why haven’t I heard of proton therapy?Many doctors may not be familiar with proton therapy because of the limited number of treatment facilities in the United States. ProCure is working to increase this number and is dedicated to making proton therapy accessible to everyone who needs it, wherever they are. ProCure also partners with leading cancer facilities around the world to continuously advance proton therapy research through protocols and clinical trials. All ProCure Proton Therapy Centers share a single focus—using proton therapy to treat cancer patients. At ProCure, your health is our mission.
British physicist Ernest Rutherford demonstrates the existence of protons (elementary particles found in atoms).
Physicist Robert Wilson first proposed that protons could be used to deliver an increased dose of radiation to a tumor while simultaneously decreasing the exposure of surrounding healthy tissue to radiation.
The first research trials were conducted on patients in the US and Europe. Results were promising, but the inability of imaging technology to accurately see or locate many tumors and the inability to direct protons to sites deep within the body meant that only a few patients were appropriate candidates for the treatment.
Advances in imaging technology, including CT, MRI, and PET scans, help researchers to better diagnose and see tumors, making proton therapy—which requires identifying the precise location of a tumor—a more practical treatment option.
Advances in imaging, CT, MRI, and PET scans now allow physicians to see deep inside the body and precisely define the location, size, and shape of tumors. This capability, coupled with improvements in proton technology, brought about today's growing interest in proton therapy as an important treatment option for cancer.
Proton Therapy is an innovative means of cancer treatment that delivers radiation at exact depths to precisely target tumors. Much of the radiation is deposited exactly at the tumor site and then stops, reducing excess radiation to healthy tissue compared to X-rays. X-rays release their maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin, potentially damaging healthy tissue and organs on their way to the tumor and as they pass through your body beyond the tumor.