Proton therapy uses very large, powerful equipment to generate external proton beams that penetrate the body to the cancerous tumor. Oncologists use this form of therapy to deliver high doses of radiation with millimeters of precision into a tumor. The powerful equipment, paired with this incredible precision kills the cancerous tissues without damaging the surrounding healthy tissue.
How is proton radiation different from traditional photon radiation?
The X-ray beams used in traditional radiation therapy go through the cancerous tumor, damaging both cancerous and healthy tissues in their paths. Radiation oncology physicians are able to focus the energy of the proton beams to enter the body and release most of their energy at the tumor, minimizing damage to healthy tissue and vital organs.
Is proton therapy an experimental cancer treatment?
No, proton therapy is not experimental. It has been used in the US over 50 years and has seen tremendous growth since 2000. It is a well-established form of cancer treatment that has been widely accepted by physicians, government agencies and several insurers.
Is proton therapy ever combined with other forms of cancer treatment?
Yes. Most commonly, lung, pediatric and lymphoma cancers are paired with an additional form of radiation and proton therapy for treatment. On a case-to-case basis, proton therapy may be used in combination with traditional radiation therapy, chemotherapy and/or surgery. During your consultation, your doctor will discuss in detail whether or not your specific form of cancer can be treated with combination therapy.
Can children receive proton therapy?
Yes. In fact, proton therapy’s incredible precision makes it ideal for treating forms of pediatric cancer. The accurate treatment limits harmful radiation exposure to healthy tissues, which are very important in their growing bodies. Additionally, the reduced side effects during treatment often allow children to tolerate proton therapy much better than traditional radiation.
Why should I choose proton therapy?
There are several key advantages to choosing proton therapy:
- Minimal/reduced side effects
- It’s non-invasive.
- It’s completely painless.
Will my insurance cover proton therapy?
Proton therapy treatment is certified for Medicare reimbursement for specific cancers.