What is proton therapy?

The Power of Proton Therapy.

The Advantages of Choosing Proton Therapy for Cancer Treatment.

Each year, thousands of cancer patients choose proton treatment for its efficacy, its low risk of side effects, and for the patient’s preserved quality of life during treatment and for years to come.

Here’s why:

Proton radiation therapy targets cancer more accurately. Unlike traditional X-rays, protons can be directed to reach only the areas of the body affected by cancer. As a result, normal, healthy tissue receives less exposure to radiation treatment, reducing the risk of complications. Fewer treatment complications may enable our physicians to deliver higher doses of radiation to the tumor. And this increased dose of proton radiation may improve a patient's chance for a successful outcome.

Proton therapy is a cancer treatment that targets tumors with high accuracy, allowing for favorable outcomes with a low risk of side effects. 

Many patients who have chosen proton therapy for cancer treatment report that the treatment presents few interruptions to normal daily activity. In fact, many proton treatment patients continue to work, enjoy time with family, and participate in favorite activities while undergoing cancer treatment at University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute.
Proton therapy for cancer treatment has been available at clinical centers in the United States since 1991. Since then, research teams have explored the benefits of using proton therapy to treat prostate cancer – as well as cancers in locations near other sensitive or vital structures. With proton treatment for prostate cancer, less radiation goes to the rectum, bladder and other pelvic tissues. The same theory works with cancers of the head and neck, the pancreas, the lung, Hodgkin lymphoma and cancers in children; more radiation reaches the cancer, and less reaches nearby healthy tissue.

To find out if proton treatment is right for you, or to compare proton therapy with other types of cancer treatment and radiation therapy, contact us today. 


The Science of Proton Therapy

Protons are the positively charged parts of an atom. A natural phenomenon in the way that protons move and release their energy − called the Bragg peak − is what makes protons optimal for use in radiation treatment for many kinds of cancer. The Bragg peak is the burst of energy released by protons when they reach the end of their path in the body, presumably at the site of a tumor. In proton therapy, the Bragg peak can be placed at any depth in the tissue, according to the depth of the tumor.


Figure 1: The path of a single proton as it enters the body and deposits the vast majority of its energy at a single point. This phenomenon is referred to as the Bragg peak. Oncologists are able to manipulate the depth at which this takes place by controlling the speed of the proton. In addition, it is possible to “stack” protons in layers to cover an area in which a tumor is growing, thereby concentrating the radiation directly at the tumor site, with minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue (See Figure 2).

Figure 2: A comparison of the amount of radiation delivered with conventional (high energy X-rays) radiation therapy versus proton therapy. Conventional therapy is distinguished by a relatively high entrance dose and exit dose. By contrast, proton therapy has a much lower entrance dose and no exit dose. The goal in radiation therapy is to minimize damage to healthy tissue by minimizing the tissue exposed in the entrance and exit doses. Proton therapy causes less damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.