Traditional prostate cancer treatment involving surgery or radiation carries the risk of serious toxicity and side effects. The potential long-term impact of these side effects on quality of life forces men to make a difficult choice during a stressful time.

Proton radiation for prostate cancer treatment offers an innovative method of radiation treatment intended to lower the risk of prostate cancer treatments and side effects.

For treating cancer of the prostate, proton therapy offers multiple benefits:

  • Excellent control of tumors, thanks to more precise targeting of radiation
  • Lower risk of damage to healthy tissue surrounding the prostate cancer
  • Better quality of life for patients undergoing prostate proton therapy treatments

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Proton Therapy vs. IMRT

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Lowering the risks for treatment

An alternative to traditional prostate cancer treatment.

Proton radiation for prostate cancer delivers precise doses of radiation with a lower risk of side effects. The difference is in the protons themselves. Since physicians have greater control over the distribution of the proton radiation dose, higher, more effective doses can be used.

And since proton therapy lacks an “exit dose,” and has a lower entrance dose than conventional X-rays, damage to critical tissue near the prostate is reduced, potentially lessening the likelihood of prostate cancer side effects like impotence, incontinence and gastrointestinal disorders. The figure to the right demonstrates the difference in radiation dose distribution between a conventional IMRT plan on the bottom and a proton plan on the top.

As apparent, much less of the pelvis is exposed to radiation with the proton plan, likely leading to a lower risk of secondary cancers in prostate cancer survivors. Also apparent is a lower dose of radiation to the rectum, which may lead to a lower risk of rectal injury with proton therapy.

Comparison of proton therapy (top) versus IMRT (bottom)
Comparison images: Proton Therapy is on the left, IMRT is on the right.

What are the results of using proton therapy in patients?

For patients facing prostate cancer, treatments and side effects present unique challenges in choosing a therapy. Proton radiation for prostate cancer treats the disease with successful outcomes and a low risk of side effects.

For thousands with cancer of the prostate, proton therapy has offered an effective, virtually painless option for prostate cancer treatment. Since the University of Florida Health Proton Therapy Institute opened in 2006, thousands have undergone proton therapy for prostate cancer, and prostate cancer patients at the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute enjoy a close-knit community of fellow patients, caregivers and spouses. Today, prostate cancer is one of many types of cancer treated at the Institute.

Survivor Spotlight

Prostate Cancer Survivor Spotlight

Reid Tillery

Prostate Cancer Survivor

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Proton therapy is effective in treating many cancer types.

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