Proton Therapy FAQs

Do you have questions about how proton therapy works, and if it’s right for you? Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive. If your question isn’t answered here, please contact us.

What is proton therapy?

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer. Just as with conventional radiation, protons treat tumors by directing radiation into the tumor site where doses of radiation destroy cancerous cells.

What is the difference between proton therapy and radiation therapy?

Proton therapy is a precise form of radiation therapy. Both conventional (x-ray) radiation therapy and proton therapy attack tumors by preventing cancer cells from dividing and growing. Conventional radiation therapy uses x-rays which enter and exit the body, potentially causing damage to the healthy tissue that surrounds the tumor being treated.  Proton therapy targets the tumor with precise accuracy, allowing patients to receive higher, more effective doses, and reducing damage to nearby healthy tissue.

Provision CARES Proton Therapy features Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS), which increases the accuracy and advantages of proton therapy. For more information on proton therapy and PBS, visit the What is Proton Therapy? page on our website.

What cancers can be treated with proton therapy?

Many cancer types can be treated with proton therapy. Proton therapy is a non-invasive treatment for cancer, beneficial for treating patients with a localized tumor where cancer has not spread to other parts of the body, or in situations where tumors cannot be removed surgically. Proton therapy may also be an option for cases that require radiation therapy in addition to surgery, or may be combined with other treatment options.

What is Pencil Beam Scanning?

Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS) allows oncologists to treat a tumor using the proton beam at a precisely configured range and adjust the intensity of the beam to achieve the appropriate dose, then stop the beam in its tracks, limiting the collateral damage. As a result, vital organs 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 dysfunction, as well as avoiding other complications such as breathing difficulties, feeding tubes, nausea, impotence, secondary cancers and more.

 PBS technology has truly revolutionized proton therapy, offering increased flexibility in dose shaping and improved dose conformality, enabling clinicians to treat larger and more complex tumors. With PBS, a proton beam spot moves by magnetic scanning, while the beam intensity is adapted simultaneously, so that protons are delivered to one specific spot about the size of a dry-erase marker tip within the patient’s body. Previous methods delivered the dose of radiation to the entire site at one time, making it difficult to accommodate for variations in tumor structure or volume. Pencil beam scanning reduces the radiation dose by 25 percent when compared to existing methods of proton delivery.

For more information on pencil beam scanning, visit the What is Proton Therapy? page on our website.

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For information or to schedule a consultation, contact us to speak with a Care Coordinator.

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