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Proton Therapy FAQs
What is proton therapy?
Proton therapy is a form of radiation that uses highly charged proton particles to precisely target and treat tumors.
How is proton therapy different?
Conventional photon (x-ray) radiation therapy deposits doses of radiation along the entire energy beam path to the tumor, and continues beyond the depth of the tumor. However, proton therapy deposits highly charged protons at a specific depth, then stops entirely. This allows the treatment to be tailored precisely to the specific depth and shape of the tumor, which reduces damage to surrounding healthy tissue. This is particularly important near critical structures such as the eye, brain, spine, lungs and heart.
What type of cancers are treated with proton therapy?
Proton therapy is ideal for treating a wide variety of complex tumors, such as those associated with cancers of the brain, breast, lung, and eye. It is also commonly used to treat pediatric cancers.
Why hasn't my doctor suggested proton therapy?
New technology is only now making proton therapy widely available to patients. Since many proton treatment centers are still in development, your doctor may not be completely familiar with proton therapy. You can learn more about proton therapy technology on our website, and ask your doctor if proton therapy is right for you or your child.
How do I talk to my doctor about proton therapy?
When discussing treatment options with your doctor, ask him or her if your type of cancer could be treated with a less-invasive technique such as proton therapy. If you are asking on behalf of your child, ask your doctor if proton therapy could be a part of his or her treatment plan, as proton therapy is ideal for treating many pediatric cancers. In some cases, traditional radiation and chemotherapy may be required, but initiating a proactive discussion with your doctor is important to understand which treatment plan is right for you or your child.
Do I qualify for proton therapy?
Proton therapy can treat a variety of tumors. It is typically used to treat tumors that are hard to reach or located near sensitive areas of the body, as well as pediatric cancers. If you think you or your child may benefit from proton therapy, ask your doctor if it could be part of your treatment plan.
Where is proton therapy offered?
There are currently dozens of proton therapy centers in the U.S. and around the world. To find a location near you, visit www.proton-therapy.org or learn more about Mevion’s treatment locations.
What can I expect when receiving treatment?
Your radiation oncologist will first create a treatment plan to determine how many sessions of proton therapy you will receive. Then, advanced imaging techniques will determine the exact location of the tumor to be treated. Once treatment begins, you’ll find it to be non-invasive and not painful in any way. You will lay on a robotic couch that will move you into just the right position to target your tumor, and you’ll remain still during the few minutes it takes to receive proton therapy. In between sessions, most patients are able to continue their normal daily activities. For more details, visit What to Expect from the Proton Therapy Process.
What are the side-effects of proton therapy?
Side-effects of proton therapy can be similar to those of traditional photon radiation therapy and may include temporary hair loss, skin reactions to areas in the direct path of radiation, and fatigue. However, proton therapy may reduce the damage to healthy tissue and organs surrounding the tumor site.