Proton therapy is a unique type of radiation therapy that uses energy from positively charged particles called protons. Protons deliver radiation to a specific depth in the body, and then they stop. They can be precisely controlled so most of their radiation ends up directly in the tumor.
Compared with standard x-ray radiation, protons deliver up to 60% less radiation to healthy tissue around a tumor. This is especially important when a tumor is located near critical organs or structures such as the brain, heart or spinal cord.
Pencil Beam Scanning (“PBS”) Proton Therapy, the most advanced form of proton therapy, uses an ultra-narrow proton beam that allows physicians to precisely “paint” the tumor with radiation, minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue and further reducing the risk of side effects. This is the form of proton therapy offered by our radiation oncology team.
Who is a Candidate for Proton Therapy?Proton therapy is effective for treating many types of cancers as well as some non-cancerous tumors. It may be an option for some patients with these types of cancers:
- Brain Tumors
- Breast Cancers
- Gastrointestinal Cancers
- Head and Neck Tumors
- Lung Tumors
- Pediatric Tumors
- Previously Irradiated Tissues
- Prostate Cancer
- Testicular Cancers
- Tumors near the Spine
Proton therapy is not for everyone. If radiation therapy is an option for you, your care team will help you determine the most appropriate treatment for your cancer.
Proton Therapy for Children
Proton therapy can be especially beneficial for children, who can experience more serious short- and long-term side effects from x-ray radiation than adults. Since their bodies are still growing, children are more sensitive to healthy tissue damage caused by x-rays. Clinical studies suggest that proton therapy reduces the risk of growth and developmental problems, as well as secondary tumors.
What to Expect From Proton Therapy
Prior to starting your proton therapy, your radiation oncologist will obtain CT, MRI or PET scan images of your tumor. These images are used to define the positioning of the tumor and healthy tissue structures around the tumor. This allows your radiation oncologist to precisely target the tumor and deliver the radiation dose while minimizing dose delivered to healthy tissue nearby.
Proton therapy treatments take a similar amount of time relative to x-ray based therapies - typically about 30 minutes, though this can vary based on the area being treated. Positioning is very important with this treatment so most of the time will be spent making sure you are in the specific position needed to receive treatment. Only a couple of minutes are needed to deliver the radiation itself, which is similar to receiving an x-ray.
The frequency and duration of treatments will depend upon your specific needs. Your radiation oncologist will be able to provide more information regarding your specific treatment plan.
LocationsPatients at John Theurer Cancer Center and affiliate locations throughout Hackensack Meridian Health who receive proton therapy travel to ProCure NJ for their treatments.
103 Cedar Grove Lane
Somerset, NJ 08873
Expert CareNicholas DeNunzio, M.D., Ph.D., is a fellowship-trained radiation oncologist who specializes in the use of proton therapy.
Why Choose John Theurer Cancer Center for Radiation Therapy
We have a history of leading radiation therapy in New Jersey. The Department of Radiation Oncology at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center was the first center in the state to offer stereotactic radiosurgery (a non-surgical option) for the treatment of brain tumors.
We were also the first medical center in New Jersey to offer TrueBeam® image-guided radiation therapy, a radically different approach to treating even the most challenging cancers with unprecedented speed and accuracy. This technology is now offered throughout the network.
John Theurer Cancer Center has affiliate locations across the state, providing you with access to advanced radiation therapy options conveniently located close to home.
The cancer surgeons at John Theurer Cancer Center perform more minimally invasive cancer surgeries than any other center in New Jersey.