How Does Proton Therapy Differ From Traditional Radiation Therapy?


Unlike proton therapy, conventional radiation therapy uses x-rays which enter and exits the body, potentially causing damage to the healthy tissue that surrounds the tumor being treated. However, at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy, our pencil beam scanning capabilities allow our oncologists to target treatment to a specific area, giving a high-energy dose of protons that enter the tumor with accuracy and stop in their tracks, limiting collateral damage to healthy tissues. As a result, the important organs and tissues surrounding the cancer are better protected from unnecessary radiation, thus minimizing or completely avoiding treatment induced side effects, such as nerve damage with resulting neurologic disfunction, as well as avoiding other complications such as breathing difficulties, nausea, impotence, secondary cancers and others.

Both standard X-rays/conventional radiation therapy and proton therapy attack tumors by preventing cancer cells from dividing and growing. The difference between the two therapies is that protons can precisely target the tumor, allowing patients to receive higher, more effective doses, and reducing damage to healthy tissue near the tumor. The chart below shows how protons eliminate radiation to the brain stem and X-rays do not.

Although it is similar to conventional radiation therapy, protons are more precise, the proton beam is fine-tuned with millimeters of accuracy to deliver maximum energy within a controlled range of the tumor. Proton treatment can also be combined with radiation, chemotherapy and biological treatments, depending on the cancer type to provide better outcomes and less tissue damage. Also, Proton treament greatly improves pediatric outcomes.