I Have Cancer. I Have Answers.

Frequently Asked Questions about proton therapy
for cancer treatment.

Choosing a cancer treatment is never a simple decision. But at the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute, we want to help make your decision a confident one. If you have questions, we’re here to answer them. Explore the information below, or contact us today to learn more.

Q. What is proton therapy?

A. Proton therapy is a form of radiation that uses powerful, more precisely guided protons to treat cancer, instead of conventional X-rays. 
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Q. Which cancers can be treated with proton therapy?

A. Proton therapy is effective in treating many types of cancer, but is most valuable in the treatment of tumors in the brain, head and neck, lung, pancreas, and prostate, as well as sarcomas and lymphomas, and in pediatric cancer. Proton therapy is typically used for tumors that have not spread to other parts of the body.
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Q. Why hasn’t my doctor suggested proton therapy?

A. Until very recently, proton therapy was only practiced at research facilities. Since dedicated proton therapy centers are still few and far between, your doctor may not be completely familiar with the benefits of proton therapy. Ask your doctor if you may be a candidate, or contact us today  to learn more.
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Q. How does the treatment process work?

A. In proton therapy, radiation oncologists use advanced imaging techniques to determine the exact location of the tumor to be treated. Once the tumor’s location is accurately determined, proton therapy sessions may take anywhere from six to eight weeks. Treatment sessions are non-invasive, so patients can often continue with their daily activities. For more details, see the proton therapy process.
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Q. Will my health insurance provide coverage for proton therapy to treat different kinds of cancer? What about prostate cancer?

A. Generally, proton therapy is covered by health insurance. To reduce the potential of financial uncertainties, this information will be reviewed with you prior to your consultation. We have a full-time staff of financial counselors who will discuss your coverage and answer any questions that you may have.
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Q. How do proton therapy side effects compare with traditional radiation side effects?

A. In many cases, the side effects associated with proton therapy are fewer than those that come from traditional radiation. This is due to proton therapy’s ability to effectively deliver radiation doses to the treatment site while doing considerably less damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. Your physician will review in detail with you any potential side effects prior to the start of your proton therapy treatments.
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Q. How many proton therapy treatments does it take to treat prostate cancer?

A. Typically, treatment for prostate cancer is performed five days a week for eight weeks.
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Q. I live a good distance away from the facility. Is there housing available for me and my spouse while I am being treated?

A. The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute offers numerous options to help our patients enjoy a comfortable, stress-free and happy stay here in Jacksonville. While the Institute does not directly arrange housing, we do have staff members available to assist you with making arrangements. A detailed list of apartments, houses, hotels, RV parks and marinas, where you will be assured the best rates, can be found on the Staying in Jacksonville section of our website.
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Q. How can I find out if I’m a candidate for proton therapy?

A. At the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute, we initially work with the patient to collect a series of clinical reports and studies that are required prior to scheduling a patient’s consultation visit. Once we have this information, it typically takes about a week to schedule the consultation visit. The consultation visit is an assessment by our physician to determine if proton therapy is the best course of treatment. To request more information, contact us today or call toll-free 877-686-6009 and speak to our Patient Intake Services Department.
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