Proton therapy is a type of radiation treatment that uses protons to treat cancer. It’s also called proton beam therapy.
A proton is a positively charged particle. At high energy, protons can destroy cancer cells. Doctors may use proton therapy alone. Or, they may combine it with other treatments, such as standard radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy, and/or immunotherapy.
The treatment is a highly-targeted form of radiotherapy that can treat hard-to-reach cancers with fewer side effects or damage to nearby tissue.It may deliver up to 60% less radiation to healthy tissue around the tumor, lowering the risk of damage to these tissues. However, more research is needed on these potential benefits to know for sure. Talk with your doctor about the benefits of proton therapy compared with other advanced external beam radiation therapy methods. These may include image-guided 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy and intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).
Cancers that can be treated with proton therapy
- Tumors that are near important parts of the body. For example, tumors near the eye, brain, and spinal cord.
- Childhood cancers of the eye, brain, and spinal cord. Proton therapy lessens the chance of harming healthy, developing tissue.
- Central nervous system cancers, including chordoma, chondrosarcoma, and malignant meningioma
- Eye cancer, including uveal melanoma or choroidal melanoma
- Head and neck cancers, including nasal cavity and paranasal sinus cancer and some nasopharyngeal cancers
- Lung cancer
- Liver cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Spinal and pelvic sarcomas, which are cancers in the soft-tissue and bone
- Noncancerous brain tumors