FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions


Get answers to the most commonly asked questions about proton therapy at ProCure.

General FAQs

Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing—just like standard X-ray radiation. However, proton therapy uses protons—positively charged atomic particles—instead of the photons used in standard X-rays. Unlike X-rays, protons can be controlled to release much of their energy directly in the tumor, reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue.1 As a result, patients can often receive higher doses and have fewer side effects from treatment.

Protons release their energy at precise depths, depositing much of their energy at the tumor site. Because of their precision, they can target cancer tumors near the skin’s surface or deep inside the body. The peak of this proton-radiation dose – called the Bragg Peak – is set so it releases radiation when it hits the tumor. Immediately after that point, the dose falls to almost zero. This means less radiation reaches the healthy tissue in front of the tumor, and almost none reaches the healthy tissue behind the tumor, resulting in less damage to healthy tissue.1 Patients often experience few of the short- and long-term side effects that typically accompany standard X-ray radiation.1-7 And because more energy can be deposited directly in the tumor, a higher dose can be delivered, leading to more effective treatment.1

Protons permanently damage cancer cells so they cannot divide nor grow. When protons reach the nucleus (or center) of cancer cells, they transfer energy to the cells’ electrons causing a series of interactions, or ionizing events, that damage the DNA of the cancer cells.

Proton therapy is not experimental; in fact, it was approved in 1988 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat cancer patients. It has been used as a cancer treatment since its first medical application in the mid-1950s; Medicare and Medicaid began covering the procedure in 2000. To date, more than 180,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at cancer centers in Europe, Asia, and the United States8.

In 1946, physicist Robert Wilson first proposed that protons could be used to deliver an increased dose of radiation to a cancer tumor while simultaneously decreasing the exposure of surrounding healthy tissue to radiation. By 1950, the first research trials were being 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, including computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and positron emission tomography (PET), 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. The first hospital-based proton treatment center in the United States was built in 1990 at Loma Linda University Medical Center in California. As of September 2019, 28 facilities are operating in the United States, with 4 more scheduled to open in the near future.9

Proton therapy was first used to treat patients in Berkeley, California, in 1955 in a research setting. While proton therapy was promising, it wasn’t until advances were made in imaging technology, such as CT, MRI, and PET scans, that doctors could accurately “see” the location, size, and shape of cancer tumors. Accurately locating tumors made it possible to leverage the precision of protons. The first proton therapy center in the United States opened at Loma Linda University Medical Center in 1990.

Since the first hospital-based proton therapy treatment center opened in California in 1990, nearly 35,000 people have received proton therapy in the United States, and more than 180,000 people worldwide.10 Experts conservatively estimate that about 250,000 cancer patients in the United States could benefit from proton therapy treatment.

Researchers 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 proton therapy centers open and more patient experiences become available.

Studies validating the benefits of proton therapy can be found in Research.

Proton therapy can be used in combination with chemotherapy, as a follow-up treatment to surgery, and in combination with standard X-ray radiation treatment. ProCure Proton Therapy Center has joined with several medical centers to provide patients with additional cancer services.

Potential side effects during or after proton therapy treatment are generally minor, less frequent, and less severe than those from standard X-ray radiation therapy. This is primarily because less healthy tissue is exposed to radiation in proton therapy. Depending on the site of your tumor, side effects may include skin irritation in the direct path of the proton radiation, tiredness, and hair loss in the area being treated. Patients should not feel pain or discomfort during treatment sessions. Your doctor will discuss with you the specific side effects that you may experience based on your treatment plan.

The medical community continues to conduct research studies on proton therapy. Major institutions such as MD Anderson Cancer Center and Massachusetts General Hospital have many ongoing clinical trials to help find improvements in treating cancer with proton therapy. As dedicated providers of proton therapy, ProCure Proton Therapy Center is currently participating in a number of clinical trials. For more information on these trials, please visit our Clinical Trials page.

Certain types of cancer are more appropriate for proton therapy than others. While research continues to support using protons in more types of cancer tumors, they are primarily used to treat:

If your condition is not listed, you may still benefit from proton therapy. Please reach out to the center to arrange a consultation and discuss if proton therapy is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Proton therapy is not appropriate for all types of cancers or all patients. Proton therapy is most effective in treating solid tumors that are well defined and localized—those that have not spread to other areas of the body. If the tumor has spread (metastasized), proton therapy may still be a treatment option, depending on the extent of the metastasis and other factors. Only a healthcare provider can determine the best approach for a patient’s unique condition.

If you are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with one of our radiation oncologists. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation that is best for you.

Proton therapy is particularly effective for children who need radiation therapy and is considered the best way to deliver radiation in the pediatric population. Clinical studies indicate that proton therapy reduces the likelihood of growth and developmental problems and of secondary tumors, which can occur years later.3,5,10 Because a child’s body is still growing and developing, the damage to nearby healthy tissue and organs from standard X-ray radiation can be harmful. This damage can cause growth abnormalities, reductions in IQ, and other complications.11 New tumors can also develop later in the child’s life. A growing body of research is confirming the advantages of using proton therapy for children. Learn more about treating pediatric cancer with proton therapy.

Proton therapy can be used to treat recurrent cancers that standard X-ray radiation therapy cannot. Patients should discuss proton therapy with a board-certified radiation oncologist to determine if it can be beneficial. Proton therapy can also be a treatment option if you’ve already had a course of standard X-ray radiation and are unable to receive more.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat cancer by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. Because X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, it exposes more tissue to unwanted radiation, potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs than proton therapy. Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. With proton therapy, much less excess radiation is delivered to healthy tissues compared to X-ray radiation therapy.

X-rays and protons can be equally effective in destroying cancer tumors. The difference is that X-ray treatments damage more healthy tissue in the process. X-rays release their maximum dose of radiation soon after penetrating the skin, potentially damaging healthy tissue and organs on their way to the tumor and again as they pass through the body beyond it. Protons can be precisely directed to release much of their energy only when they reach the tumor. Because there is much less exposure to healthy tissue with protons, a higher dose often can be delivered, leading to more effective cancer treatment.1

Because proton beams deposit more of their energy directly in the tumor, less radiation reaches the healthy tissue surrounding it.1 This reduces the risk of short- and long-term side effects. In addition, because more radiation can be deposited directly in the tumor, a higher dose can be delivered when treating certain tumors with proton therapy, leading to more effective treatment.1

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. The center has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process and will work with you to review benefits (such as co-pay, deductible, out-of-pocket costs) offered by your insurance company. If you have questions about coverage, please contact us and have your insurance plan, group number, and member ID ready. Once supplied to the center, one of our intake members will be in contact to review the benefits offered by your insurance company.

We do our best to have you come to our center and speak with a physician as soon as possible. Most patients are able to schedule a consultation within one week of contacting us.

Conditions Treated FAQs


Find answers to the most commonly asked questions for conditions treated at ProCure.

Prostate Cancer FAQs

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.

Usually, treatments are given five days a week for up to eight weeks, depending on the stage of your prostate cancer and other health factors. Shorter courses of treatment, ranging from one week to five weeks, are available for select groups of patients. In most cases, you can go about your normal routine before and after your session.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used with many other kinds of cancer treatment, including hormone therapy, brachytherapy, and/or as a follow-up to surgery.

Most patients do not feel pain or discomfort during treatment. The majority of the time patients spend in the treatment room involves setting up for treatment.

Your radiation therapists will have everything ready for you before the treatment begins. You will be moved into position before each treatment using an FDA-approved robotic positioning system. You will be asked to lie still on a treatment bed while your therapists make adjustments. After you are in position, the proton beam is delivered and is on for about one minute. You will not feel or see the proton beam. You may hear some clicking from the equipment around you, but generally, after a few treatment sessions, the sounds go unnoticed. During the actual treatment, your therapists will leave the room and monitor your treatment from a control room just outside the treatment room. Although they are not in the same room as you, they can see and hear you through a video monitor. They remain close by and you can easily talk to them if you need anything.

There is no need to stay overnight in a hospital or remain at the center after your treatment. In most cases, you can go about your normal routine before and after your session.

Unlike conventional radiation treatments in which the beam penetrates all the way through the target tumor into the normal tissues behind the cancer, proton beams deliver their dose to the tumor without any dose reaching the deeper tissues. Pencil beam scanning couples this unique property of the proton beam with an electronically guided scanning system that delicately and precisely moves a beam of pencil point sharpness back and forth across each layer of the tumor’s thickness. This “paints” the tumor with radiation in three dimensions and eliminates dose to the normal tissues on the other side of the cancer. The ultra-precision of pencil beam scanning makes it an ideal treatment for prostate cancer as the radiation dose to the rectum and bladder is minimized. Learn more.

SpaceOAR® Hydrogel is a temporary injectable gel that protects the rectum in men undergoing radiation therapy for prostate cancer, decreasing the likelihood of side effects. The SpaceOAR System reduces rectal injury by acting as a spacer – pushing the rectum away from the prostate and out of the high dose radiation region.

The hydrogel spacer is injected during a minimally invasive procedure and once in place, patients typically can’t feel it. The hydrogel is safe and similar to other products used in brain surgery, cardiology and ophthalmology. It remains in place for three months during radiation treatment and is then absorbed and leaves the body in the patient’s urine — leaving nothing behind. 

The SpaceOAR System has been clinically proven and studied in a US Clinical Trial and is FDA cleared for sale in the US. The physicians at ProCure were some of the pioneering doctors to validate the benefits of hydrogel.

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. Each ProCure Center has a financial counselor who is dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process. Please contact us if you have questions about coverage.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat prostate cancer by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. Because X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, it exposes more tissue to unwanted radiation, potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs than proton therapy. Proton therapy delivers much of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.3

For prostate cancer, this means less radiation is delivered to the bladder and rectum. In a study conducted at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, proton therapy delivered on average 35 percent less radiation to the bladder and 59 percent less radiation to the rectum compared with standard radiation therapy.4

Yes. According to a study from the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute, 99 percent of men with early and intermediate prostate cancer and 76 percent of men with advanced prostate cancer are cancer-free five years after proton therapy.6 These results compare favorably to outcomes achieved with surgery or other types of radiation.

In a Massachusetts General Hospital Phase III study of 393 patients with early, intermediate, and advanced stages of prostate cancer (all risk groups), 91.3 percent of patients were cancer-free at five years when treated with high doses of proton therapy.6,7

Proton therapy offers high cancer control rates.7 In one study, 91.3 percent of men in all risk groups were cancer-free (no rise in prostate-specific antigen (PSA)) at five years post-treatment.6 High cancer-free rates were also maintained for patients in the low-risk group in follow-up at 10 years. For example, 92.9 percent of men in the low-risk disease group were cancer-free 10 years after receiving proton therapy treatment.7

Proton therapy shares a high cure rate with other cancer treatments, including brachytherapy and IMRT. The difference is that standard X-ray therapies such as IMRT deliver more radiation to normal tissues surrounding the prostate.8 With proton therapy, radiation to critical structures, including the rectum and bladder, is dramatically reduced, resulting in low rates of rectal and genitourinary side effects.6,10,11,12 A national trial led by investigators at the Harvard Cancer Center is ongoing to determine if the reduction in exposure to the healthy tissues can improve the long-term quality of life for patients after proton therapy treatment. Studies have shown reduced risks of radiation-induced cancers with protons.

Most patients do not experience side effects during proton therapy treatment. If side effects occur, such as mild fatigue and more frequent urination, they are generally minor and manageable. In terms of long-term side effects, because proton therapy is very precise, it is unlikely to cause urinary or bowel problems. Additionally, proton therapy has a low risk of debilitating side effects like incontinence and impotence, which are often associated with treatment options like surgery.

Most men with prostate cancer are good candidates for proton therapy. If you are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with a radiation oncologist at ProCure. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will work with you to determine if you are likely to benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use all forms of radiation to treat prostate cancer, so they will provide you with an unbiased treatment recommendation that is best for you.

Trials are currently being conducted for prostate cancer at ProCure, including:

  • A study to determine if prostate cancer patients treated with proton therapy as compared to intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) experience improved Quality of Life (QOL).
  • A study for men who have been diagnosed with Stage 1 or 2 prostate cancer that compares two types of radiation therapy: intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and proton beam therapy (PBT). It seeks to determine if proton therapy results in fewer side effects on bowel, urinary and erectile function. This study is being led by investigators at the Harvard Cancer Center and is sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
  • A registry that will enroll men who are eligible for but decline enrollment and randomization in the above trial. The overall goal of the Registry is to assess the representativeness and generalizability of the randomized clinical trial findings to a broader spectrum of eligible patients.

Please visit Clinical Trials for more information.

Brain Tumor FAQS

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.

Depending on your brain tumor diagnosis, treatments are usually given 5 days a week for a period of 4-7 weeks. Each treatment session can range from 15-60 minutes, but the actual proton delivery is only about 60 seconds.

Most patients do not feel pain or discomfort during treatment. The majority of the time patients spend in the treatment room involves setting up for treatment.

Your radiation therapists will have everything ready for you before the treatment begins. You will be moved into position before each treatment using an FDA-approved robotic positioning system. You will be asked to lie still on a treatment bed while your therapists make adjustments. After you are in position, the proton beam is delivered and is on for about one minute. You will not feel or see the proton beam. You may hear some clicking from the equipment around you, but generally, after a few treatment sessions, the sounds go unnoticed. During the actual treatment, your therapists will leave the room and monitor your treatment from a control room just outside the treatment room. Although they are not in the same room as you, they can see and hear you through a video monitor. They remain close by and you can easily talk to them if you need anything.

There is no need to stay overnight in a hospital or remain at the center after your treatment. In most cases, you can go about your normal routine before and after your session.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used in combination with conventional radiation, chemotherapy, hormone therapy and/or as a follow-up to surgery.

The brain tumors most appropriate for proton therapy include:4

  • Gliomas (astrocytomas)
  • Ependymomas
  • Medulloblastomas
  • Pineoblastomas
  • Supratentorial PNET
  • Germ cell tumors
  • Pituitary gland tumors
  • Pediatric brain tumors
  • Recurrent brain tumors
  • Meningiomas
  • Craniopharyngioma

Arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) of the brain can also be treated using protons. If your condition is not listed, you may still benefit from proton therapy. Please reach out to the center to arrange a consultation and discuss if proton therapy is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. ProCure has  financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process. Please contact us if you have questions about coverage.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat brain tumors by destroying the tumor’s cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, exposing more tissue to unwanted radiation and potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs.

Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing radiation exposure and potential damage to normal brain tissue, eyes, and the optic nerve.5,6

Yes. A study from the Oncology Institute of Southern Switzerland (published in Radiation and Oncology:  Journal of the European Society for Therapeutic Radiology and Oncology) showed proton therapy was superior to standard radiation in sparing unaffected tissue and organs while treating small brain lesions (maximum brain stem irradiation ranged from 60% with IMRT to 26% with protons).6

Yes. A study by the Paul Scherrer Institute showed the overall survival rate for intracranial meningiomas patients treated by proton therapy was as high as 92.7%.7

There is no discomfort or sensation during the actual radiation treatment. Most brain tumor patients have few, or very mild, side effects from proton therapy. Any mild side effects can be managed with medications, if necessary. Most patients can continue to be active and engage in most of their normal daily activities.

Main patients with benign (non-cancerous) and malignant (cancerous) brain tumors are good candidates for proton therapy. If you are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with one of our radiation oncologists. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat lung cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation that is best for you.

Breast Cancer FAQs

We treat non-metastatic breast cancers that are stages I—III. We treat left- or right-sided breast cancer, after mastectomy or lumpectomy.

Similar to other forms of radiation, proton therapy is typically used in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy and can be used to treat recurrent tumors even in patients who have already received traditional forms of radiation.

No, proton therapy does not replace the need for chemotherapy or surgery. Patients typically have proton therapy with chemotherapy or other therapies they are receiving or they receive proton therapy after surgery.

Yes. Some patients are able to have a breast implant placed before proton therapy treatment and some must wait until proton therapy is completed. Please discuss with your breast surgeon and radiation oncologist to determine the optimal timing of your reconstructive surgery and proton therapy treatment.

The time spent delivering proton therapy to the tumor is only about a minute or two, but the entire treatment session may take 30 to 60 minutes. Treatments are usually given 5 days a week for 3 to 7 weeks, depending on the stage of your cancer and other factors.

Most patients do not feel pain or discomfort during treatment. The majority of the time patients spend in the treatment room involves setting up for treatment. Your radiation therapists will have everything ready for you before the treatment begins. You will be moved into position before each treatment using an FDA-approved robotic positioning system. You will be asked to lie still on a treatment bed while your therapists make adjustments. After you are in position, the proton beam is delivered and is on for about one minute. You will not feel or see the proton beam. You may hear some clicking from the equipment around you, but generally, after a few treatment sessions, the sounds go unnoticed. During the actual treatment, your therapists will leave the room and monitor your treatment from a control room just outside the treatment room. Although they are not in the same room as you, they can see and hear you through a video monitor. They remain close by and you can easily talk to them if you need anything.

There is no need to stay overnight in a hospital or remain at the center after your treatment. In most cases, you can go about your normal routine before and after your session. Most patients have very few or mild side effects, such as fatigue, from proton therapy. If you do experience any side effects, they can be managed with medications if necessary.

Most patients with breast cancer are good candidates for proton therapy. If you would like to better understand the use of proton therapy in your treatment, we can schedule a consultation with a radiation oncologist. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you are likely to benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use many forms of radiation to treat breast cancer, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation for your consideration. For more information, please call us or Request More Information online.

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. ProCure has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process. They will happily guide you and answer any questions you may have regarding insurance coverage.

We do our best to have you come to our center and speak with a physician as soon as possible, and most patients are able to schedule a consultation within one week of contacting us.

During the consultation, the radiation oncologist at ProCure will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you can benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat breast cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation for your consideration.

Because protons deposit their energy directly into the tumor site then stop without delivering dose to the tissue behind the tumor, patients can receive lower radiation exposure to the heart, lungs, and healthy breast tissue than with X-ray radiation therapy. Less radiation to these areas will likely lower the risk of developing heart disease, lung disease, and secondary tumors decades after radiation treatment. The benefits are especially important for patients with left-sided breast cancer because the cancer is close to the heart and the lung. They are also very important for patients who have a need for radiation to lymph nodes or a coexisting heart or lung condition.

Proton therapy might be a good option if you:

  • Have non-metastatic breast cancer requiring treatment to the breast/chest and regional lymph nodes
  • Will be receiving cardiotoxic chemotherapy, such as doxorubicin or trastuzumab
  • Have pre-existing vascular comorbidity, cardiac disease, lung disease or history of smoking
  • Have anatomy that places normal organs at elevated risk of radiation exposure

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat breast cancer by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. Because X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, it exposes more tissue to unwanted radiation, causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs than proton therapy.

Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. With proton therapy, much less excess radiation is delivered to the heart and the lungs compared to X-ray radiation therapy.

Patients may experience mild fatigue during treatment but can continue to be active and engage in most of their normal daily activities. It is also common for patients to experience skin irritation with any type of radiation treatment for breast cancer. Your radiation oncologist can prescribe cream to help alleviate skin discomfort during your treatment.

Yes, there is clinical evidence showing that proton therapy is effective in treating breast cancer, reduces radiation dose to the heart and lung and is well tolerated by patients with low rates of side effects.

The studies showing that proton therapy is effective and well tolerated in treating breast cancer include the following:

  • A study from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) showed that in patients with locally advanced breast cancer, post-mastectomy proton therapy was able to treat the chest wall and regional lymphatics while sparing the heart and lung from unwanted dose.1
  • ProCure Proton Therapy Center and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center recently published the largest clinical study of proton therapy to treat the breast and lymph nodes. The study showed similar results as the study from MGH with patients showing very low rates of side effects. Proton therapy achieved exceedingly low exposure of radiation to the lung and heart without compromising treatment to the targeted tumor.2

The studies showing that proton therapy reduces radiation dose to the heart and lung include the following:

  • A study from Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland compared proton therapy to standard X-ray radiation therapy for the treatment of localized breast cancer. The study shows that proton therapy covered the tumor better and lowered radiation to nearby organs when compared with standard X-ray radiation therapy. This implies that proton therapy has the potential to reduce the risk of short-term and long-term side effects.3
  • A study from National Cancer Center in Korea showed that proton therapy allowed significant dose reductions to normal breast tissue, the lungs and the heart.4
  • A comparative treatment planning study based on left-sided, stage III breast cancer patients treated at ProCure Proton Therapy Center showed that proton therapy significantly reduces radiation to the heart, the lung, and the breast on the opposite side of the one being treated compared to standard X-ray radiation therapies (3D-CRT, HT, and IMRT).5

A study from Swedish National Cancer (the Darby study published in the New England Journal of Medicine), a large case-control study, showed that the risk of ischemic heart disease is directly proportional to cardiac radiation dose received.6 

Currently there are two trials for breast cancer underway at ProCure:

  • A phase II, prospective, randomized trial comparing the effects on women with early stage breast cancer using proton radiation therapy.
  • A phase II multi-institutional study conducted by the Proton Collaborative Group (PCG) to look at the rates of acute and long-term adverse events of postoperative proton radiotherapy for loco-regional irradiation in women with localized breast cancer. This study specifically includes follow-up at 10 and 15 years following proton therapy to assess the incidence of cardiac mortality and second malignant neoplasms.

For more information, please see Clinical Trials or contact the center.

Head & Neck Tumor FAQs

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used as a follow-up to or in combination with surgery, chemotherapy or standard X-ray radiation.

ProCure treats:

  • Nasopharynx (back of the nose where it meets the throat)
  • Nasal (nose) cavity
  • Paranasal sinuses (sinuses surrounding the nasal cavity)
  • Oropharynx (area of the throat at the back of the mouth), including the tonsils and base of tongue
  • Larynx cancer (voice box)
  • Oral and mouth cancers
  • Throat
  • Tongue
  • Thyroid
  • Salivary gland
  • Hypopharyngeal cancer
  • Recurrent head & neck cancers (previously treated)

If your condition is not listed, you may still benefit from proton therapy. Please reach out to the center to arrange a consultation and discuss if proton therapy is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. The center has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process and will work with you to review benefits (such as co-pay, deductible, out-of-pocket costs) offered by your insurance company. If you have questions about coverage, please contact us and have your insurance plan, group number, and member ID ready. Once supplied to the center, one of our intake members will be in contact to review the benefits offered by your insurance company.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat head and neck tumors by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, exposing more tissue to unwanted radiation and potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs. Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

There are a number of studies that show proton therapy is an effective treatment for head and neck tumors. These studies can be found on our Research page.

Many patients with head and neck tumors are good candidates for proton therapy. If you would like to better understand proton therapy, we can schedule a consultation with a radiation oncologist. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you are likely to benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation for your consideration. For more information, please call us or Request More Information online.

Tumors Near The Spine FAQs

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 spinal tumor while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Unlike standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.

Depending on your spinal tumor diagnosis, treatments are usually given 5 days a week for a period of 4-7 weeks. Each treatment session can range from 15-60 minutes, but the actual proton delivery is only about 60 seconds.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used in combination with conventional radiation, hormone therapy, chemotherapy, and/or as a follow-up to surgery

The spinal tumors most appropriate for proton therapy include:

  • Ependymomas
  • Chondrosarcomas
  • Sarcomas
  • Desmoid tumors
  • Chordomas
  • Recurrent spine tumors (previously treated)

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. The center has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process and will work with you to review benefits (such as co-pay, deductible, out-of-pocket costs) offered by your insurance company. If you have questions about coverage, please contact us and have your insurance plan, group number, and member ID ready. Once supplied to the center, one of our intake members will be in contact to review the benefits offered by your insurance company.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat tumors near the spine by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, exposing more tissue to unwanted radiation and potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs. Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

There are a number of studies that show proton therapy is an effective treatment for tumors near the spine. These studies can be found on our Research page.

Most spinal tumor patients do not experience side effects during proton therapy treatment. If side effects do occur, such as mild fatigue or nausea, they are generally minor and very manageable. Additionally, proton therapy has a low risk of long-term and life-threatening side effects like motor impairment or paralysis. Most patients can continue to be active and engage in their normal daily activities during and after treatment.

Many patients with spinal tumors are good candidates for proton therapy. If you are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with one of our radiation oncologists. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat spinal cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation that best fits your needs.

Pediatric Cancer FAQs

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.

Depending on your child’s diagnosis, treatments are usually given 5 days a week for a period of 4 to 7 weeks. The time spent actually delivering the protons to the tumor is about 60 seconds, but a pediatric cancer treatment session can range from 60 to 90 minutes, depending on your child’s needs.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used in conjunction with or as a follow-up to other forms of treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy or conventional X-ray radiation.

The pediatric cancers ProCure treats include:

  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Ewing’s sarcoma
  • Ependymoma
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Hodgkin’s disease
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Base of skull tumors:
    • Chordomas
    • Chondrosarcoma
  • Optic nerve meningioma

If your child’s condition is not listed, they may still be a good candidate for proton therapy. Please contact the center to schedule a consultation and to find out more about the benefits of proton therapy.

Most insurance plans cover the cost of proton therapy for treating childhood cancers. Contact your insurance provider directly or call us for more information. ProCure has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process. They will happily guide you and answer any questions you may have regarding insurance coverage.

The good news is the vast majority of children treated for childhood cancers will be cured of their disease. Unfortunately, some childhood cancer survivors will later develop a new cancer as a result of their exposure to radiation, often decades after their initial treatment. Children are more likely to develop these radiation-induced secondary tumors than adults, and the risk is directly related to the amount of normal, healthy tissue that receives radiation.

Studies show that using proton therapy is likely to reduce the risk of radiation-induced cancers substantially, even when compared to the most sophisticated forms of traditional X-ray radiation, such as IMRT. Additionally, some experts have estimated that the risk of a secondary tumor with IMRT is at least 8 times greater than with proton therapy for children with medulloblastoma.5

In short, no. Proton therapy’s reduced radiation dose to normal tissues can also reduce the risk of other complications, such as developmental abnormalities. For example, proton therapy treatment for brain cancers can reduce the dose to critical structures, such as the hippocampus, hypothalamus, temporal lobes, and cochlea, compared to traditional (X-ray) therapy.6-9

Most pediatric patients have few, or very mild, side effects from proton therapy. If your child does experience any side effects, these can usually be managed with medications.

Since a patient receiving proton radiation therapy does not feel, see, or hear anything, the treatment is typically pain-free. As a result, most children will be able to lie still for the duration of the treatment. However, sedation is occasionally administered if we feel it’s necessary to ensure your child remains still during the treatment.

Most children are able to participate in normal activities before and after their daily treatments.

Many pediatric patients with cancer are good candidates for proton therapy. If you would like to better understand the use of proton therapy in your child’s treatment, we can schedule a consultation with a radiation oncologist. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if your child is likely to benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat pediatric cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation for your consideration. For more information, please call us or Request More Information online.

There is currently one trial for pediatric cancer underway at ProCure:

– A multi-center registry of pediatric patients treated with proton therapy that compares the effects of chemotherapy in combination with hypofractionated proton radiation therapy.

For more information about this trial, please see Clinical Trials or contact the center.

Gastrointestinal Cancer FAQs

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.

Depending on your diagnosis, treatments are usually given 5 days a week for a period of 4-7 weeks. Each treatment session can range from 15-60 minutes, but the actual proton delivery is only about 60 seconds.

Most patients do not feel pain or discomfort during treatment. The majority of the time patients spend in the treatment room involves setting up for treatment.

Your radiation therapists will have everything ready for you before the treatment begins. You will be moved into position before each treatment using an FDA-approved robotic positioning system. You will be asked to lie still on a treatment bed while your therapists make adjustments. After you are in position, the proton beam is delivered and is on for about one minute. You will not feel or see the proton beam. You may hear some clicking from the equipment around you, but generally, after a few treatment sessions, the sounds go unnoticed. During the actual treatment, your therapists will leave the room and monitor your treatment from a control room just outside the treatment room. Although they are not in the same room as you, they can see and hear you through a video monitor. They remain close by and you can easily talk to them if you need anything.

There is no need to stay overnight in a hospital or remain at the center after your treatment. In most cases, you can go about your normal routine before and after your session.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used in combination with or as a follow up to conventional radiation, chemotherapy, and/or surgery.

ProCure treats gastrointestinal tumors found in the:

  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • Pancreas
  • Liver
  • Rectum
  • Anal canal
  • Colon

If your condition is not listed, you may still benefit from proton therapy. Please reach out to the center to arrange a consultation and discuss if proton therapy is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. The center has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process and will work with you to review benefits (such as co-pay, deductible, out-of-pocket costs) offered by your insurance company. If you have questions about coverage, please contact us and have your insurance plan, group number, and member ID ready. Once supplied to the center, one of our intake members will be in contact to review the benefits offered by your insurance company.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat gastrointestinal tumors by destroying the tumor’s cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, exposing more tissue to unwanted radiation and potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs.

Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing radiation exposure and potential damage to normal healthy tissue.

Yes. A study from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX (published in International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics) showed proton therapy provided significantly better sparing of the lung than IMRT in the treatment of esophageal cancer.4

Further research studies validating the benefits of proton therapy can be found on our Research page.

Many patients with gastrointestinal tumors are good candidates for proton therapy. If you are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with one of our radiation oncologists. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat gastrointestinal cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation that is best for you.

Lung Cancer FAQs

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly in the tumor and then stop.

Treatments are usually given five days a week for one to seven weeks, depending on the stage of your cancer and other health factors.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used as a follow-up to surgery or chemotherapy.

Most patients do not feel pain or discomfort during treatment. The majority of the time patients spend in the treatment room involves setting up for treatment.

Your radiation therapists will have everything ready for you before the treatment begins. You will be moved into position before each treatment using an FDA-approved robotic positioning system. You will be asked to lie still on a treatment bed while your therapists make adjustments. After you are in position, the proton beam is delivered and is on for about one minute. You will not feel or see the proton beam. You may hear some clicking from the equipment around you, but generally, after a few treatment sessions, the sounds go unnoticed. During the actual treatment, your therapists will leave the room and monitor your treatment from a control room just outside the treatment room. Although they are not in the same room as you, they can see and hear you through a video monitor. They remain close by and you can easily talk to them if you need anything.

There is no need to stay overnight in a hospital or remain at the Center after your treatment. In most cases, you can go about your normal routine before and after your session.

ProCure treats stage I, II, and III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) and certain stages of Small Cell Lung Cancer (SCLC).

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. ProCure has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process. Please contact us if you have questions about coverage.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat lung cancer by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, exposing more tissue to unwanted radiation and potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs. Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

For lung cancer, this means that proton therapy can deliver the same dose to the tumor with less radiation damage to the healthy lung tissue compared with standard radiation treatments, such as three-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3D-CRT) and IMRT.3 Additionally, proton therapy can be used to deliver more radiation to the tumor to improve the outcomes for lung cancer patients.4 This is important because precision targeting reduces radiation to the healthy lung tissues and esophagus, which significantly lowers the rates of pneumonitis and esophagitis compared to 3D-CRT or IMRT.5

Recent studies suggest that proton therapy is just as effective as other forms of radiation, such as 3D-CRT and IMRT, in patients with NSCLC, but has lower risk of side effects such as pneumonitis and esophagitis (inflammation of the lungs and esophagus).4,5 Protons can also reduce the radiation dose to the heart. Proton therapy targets the lung tumor more precisely than other forms of radiotherapy, reducing excess radiation to the uninvolved lung, heart, and other mediastinal structures.6 In a study by the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center of patients with inoperable NSCLC, proton therapy reduced dose to normal lungs, esophagus, spinal cord, and heart by a significant amount compared with other forms of radiotherapy.7,8

The most common side effects from any type of radiation treatment for lung cancer patients are esophagitis and pneumonitis. The severity of these side effects is directly related to radiation dose delivered to the lungs and esophagus. With less radiation delivered to normal tissues than standard radiotherapy options such as 3D-CRT and IMRT, proton therapy is associated with lower rates of lung and esophageal side effects.4

Many patients with stage II or stage III NSCLC and certain stages of SCLC are good candidates for proton therapy. In addition, select patients with stage I or recurrent NSCLC may be candidates for proton therapy. If you are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with one of our radiation oncologists. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat lung cancer in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you a treatment recommendation that is best for you.

Currently, there is one clinical trial for lung cancer underway at ProCure:

  • A phase I/II study that compares the effects on subjects and their cancer using standard chemotherapy in combination with hypofractionated proton radiation therapy for stage II-III Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC). Hypofractionation is a technique that delivers higher daily doses of radiation over a shorter period of time.

For more information, please see Clinical Trials or contact the center.

Base-of-Skull Tumor FAQs

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation that destroys cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. 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 base-of-skull tumors while minimizing damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. Unlike standard X-ray radiation, protons deposit much of their radiation directly into the tumor and then stop.

Depending on your diagnosis, treatments are usually given 5 days a week for a period of 4-7 weeks. Each treatment session can range from 15-60 minutes, but the actual proton delivery is only about 60 seconds.

Yes. Proton therapy can be used in combination with and/or as a follow-up to conventional radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery.

The base-of-skull tumors most appropriate for proton therapy include:

Benign

  • Pituitary adenoma
  • Neurofibromas
  • Neuromas (trigeminal neuromas, vagal schwannomas)
  • Meningiomas
  • Glomus tumors
  • Adenoid cystic carcinoma
  • Acoustic neuromas (also called vestibular schwannomas)

Cancerous

  • Sarcomas
  • Mucosal melanomas
  • Esthesioblastomas
  • Chordomas
  • Carcinomas
  • Carcinoid tumors

If your condition is not listed, you may still benefit from proton therapy. Please reach out to the center to arrange a consultation and discuss if proton therapy is an appropriate treatment option for you.

Proton therapy is covered by Medicare and many private insurance providers. The center has financial counselors who are dedicated to guiding you through the insurance process and will work with you to review benefits (such as co-pay, deductible, out-of-pocket costs) offered by your insurance company. If you have questions about coverage, please contact us and have your insurance plan, group number, and member ID ready. Once supplied to the center, one of our intake members will be in contact to review the benefits offered by your insurance company.

Proton therapy and X-ray radiation therapy both treat base-of-skull tumors by killing cancer cells when they attempt to divide and multiply. However, there is an important difference. X-ray radiation releases its maximum dose of radiation quickly after penetrating the skin and continues to release radiation as it passes through your body beyond the tumor, exposing more tissue to unwanted radiation and potentially causing more damage to healthy tissue and organs. Proton therapy delivers most of the radiation exactly at the tumor site and then stops. There is essentially no radiation exposure beyond the tumor site once the radiation has reached and covered the treatment area. This allows proton radiation to target the tumor while reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue.

There are a number of studies that show proton therapy is an effective treatment for base-of-skull tumors. Skull based tumors have been treated with proton therapy for over 20 years with excellent published outcomes.  Protons remain the standard of care for these types of cancers. These studies can be found on our Research page.

Most base-of-skull tumor patients experience minimal side effects during proton therapy treatment. Your doctor and care team is available to help manage any that may occur. Most patients can continue to be active and engage in their normal daily activities during and after treatment.

Many patients with base-of-skull tumors are good candidates for proton therapy. If you are interested in proton therapy as a treatment option, we can schedule a consultation for you to speak with one of our radiation oncologists. During the consultation, the radiation oncologist will discuss different treatment options with you and determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. The radiation oncologists at ProCure use various forms of radiation to treat base-of-skull tumors in addition to proton therapy, so they will provide you with a treatment recommendation that best fits your needs.

Talk To Us

Find out if proton therapy is the right treatment for you. Contact our Care Team or request more information online.

Attend An Information Session

Learn more about proton therapy and our world-class Care Team. Contact the center to reserve your place.

 

Contact our care team at (877) 967-7628