Radiation Oncology


Proton Therapy

Penn Medicine's Roberts Proton Therapy Center is the largest and most advanced facility in the world for this precise form of cancer radiation. At Penn Medicine, patients have access to one of the most sophisticated weapons against cancer, seamlessly integrated with the full range of oncology services available at Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.

Watch as one pancreatic cancer patient describes his experience with proton therapy, a new treatment option for patients with advanced disease, offered at Penn's Roberts Proton Therapy Center.

Hear more from Penn Medicine's proton patients

Proton therapy is external beam radiotherapy in which protons are directed at a tumor. The radiation dose that is given through protons is very precise, and limits the exposure of normal tissues. This allows the radiation dose delivered to the tumor to be increased beyond conventional radiation. The result is a better chance for curing cancer with fewer harmful side effects.

Proton therapy, like all forms of radiation therapy, works by aiming the energized particles, in this case protons, onto the target tumor. These particles damage the DNA of cells, ultimately causing their death.

Unlike X-rays, protons can be manipulated to release most of their energy only when they reach their target. With more energy reaching the cancerous cells, more damage is administered by each burst of radiation.

Learn more about how Proton Therapy works

The Advantages for Patients

There are several advantages to proton therapy for individuals who are candidates, including:

  • Same tumor killing properties as X-rays
  • Decreased dose to normal tissues
  • Decreased side effects and complications
  • Treating tumors close to critical organs, like the spinal cord
  • Increasing the safe dose delivered to tumors
  • Increased cure rates
  • Ability to re-treat tumors after recurrences
  • Added ability to treat benign conditions