What types of cancer are treated with proton therapy?
Proton therapy is effective in treating many types of cancers, and especially those tumors that are near critical organs, such as brain tumors.
At Penn Medicine, we are constantly working to expand the list of cancers treated with proton therapy.
How do I know if I am a candidate for proton therapy?
Our team of experienced radiation oncologists will determine if you are a potential candidate for proton therapy.
We are constantly expanding the list of cancers we treat.
If you think you may be a candidate for proton therapy, call 800-789-7366 (PENN) or schedule a consultation online.
Can proton therapy be combined with other treatments for cancer?
Proton therapy may be used in conjunction with other treatment modalities, including conventional radiation and chemotherapy.
Your radiation oncologist will help shape a treatment plan that may include proton therapy alone, or in conjunction with other treatments for cancer.
The combination of proton therapy and conventional radiation therapy typically permits an escalation of dose to the tumor while minimizing radiation doses to normal tissues.
The combination of radiation therapy with chemotherapy can be difficult for patients due to the side effects seen with some combinations. However, by targeting the radiation with protons, radiation oncologists at Penn may be able to develop more effective and less toxic combination therapies.
Who treats patients with proton therapy?
You will receive cancer treatment and proton therapy treatment at Penn Medicine's Roberts Proton Therapy Center by a multidisciplinary team of nationally recognized cancer experts who are part of Penn's Abramson Cancer Center.
The a team of highly trained specialists that include:
A diagnostic radiologist may also perform imaging studied to help design the treatment. Together, this team evaluates the patient, determines the appropriate therapy, develops a treatment plan to treat the prostate cancer and performs quality assurance.
They also work closely with a number of support services within the Abramson Cancer Center, including social workers and nutritionists, as well as integrative medicine physicians and health specialists.
Is proton therapy FDA-approved?
Proton therapy was FDA-approved in 2001. Proton therapy has been used in the United States for more than 50 years and in a hospital setting since 1990.
Does my insurance cover proton therapy?
Many insurance plans in the United States, including Medicare, will cover proton therapy.
If you are interested in proton therapy treatment for cancer, check with your individual insurance provider to learn if proton therapy is covered.
Learn more about insurance plans accepted at Penn Medicine.
If your insurance does not cover proton therapy, or you wish to self-pay, there may be financial assistance options available. Please call 877-433-5299 for information about financial assistance, or visit the Penn Medicine financial assistance page.
How long will my proton therapy treatment sessions last?
Proton therapy treatment courses vary depending on the type and location of your cancer. Each proton therapy session lasts about 30 minutes.
What can I bring to a proton therapy treatment session?
You may bring anything that makes you feel comfortable, however, your technician may ask that you leave personal items in the personal changing space and lockers located in the Roberts Proton Therapy Center.
Some patients bring portable music devices, laptops and notebooks, books, pillows and their own robes from home. Patients may also bring a support person to be with them before and after their proton therapy session.
What are the side effects of proton therapy?
People who receive proton therapy for cancer treatment report fewer side effects compared to other forms of conventional radiation therapy. In fact, many people who receive proton therapy return to work the same day.
Other factors such as presence of the disease, as well as concurrent therapies, may influence the amount and extent of side effects from proton therapy. A radiation oncologist can tell you what side effects you may encounter while undergoing proton therapy for cancer.
Listen to proton therapy patients talk about their experience with proton therapy
How will I feel after proton therapy?
Every person reacts to cancer treatment differently, and proton therapy is no exception. While the side effects are fewer than traditional cancer treatments, patients may feel side effects depending on their size and location of tumor, type of tumor, age and medical history. Side effects may include fatigue, skin redness and temporary hair loss.
You should speak with your cancer treatment team to discuss any possible side effects from proton therapy.
How long does proton radiation stay in my body?
Proton radiation has a very short life. It goes into your body, targets the tumor and has few side effects to healthy surrounding tissue. Once your treatment session is over, you can leave and go home and back to your normal routine.
Is proton therapy painful?
Proton therapy is not painful. Most patients report no pain or discomfort during proton therapy treatment.
Can I have sex after proton therapy?
Patients who receive proton therapy can have sex after proton therapy.
I'm interested in proton therapy in Philadelphia, but am not from the area. Are there accommodations available?
We understand that not everyone has easy access to care offered at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia. Proton therapy requires frequent, if not daily, sessions for up to twelve weeks. The time spent away from home can be lengthy for someone who is not from the Philadelphia area.
To support those patients who come from outside the Philadelphia area, Penn Medicine has a list of Philadelphia hotels with prearranged rates for patients at Penn Medicine.
Patients who come to Penn for their cancer treatment may also wish to learn about housing options with Hosts for Hospitals in Philadelphia. Hosts for Hospitals provides free, in-home hospitality and accommodations for patients and their families undergoing cancer treatment at Penn.
How can I find a clinical trial for proton therapy in Philadelphia?
Patients can find a clinical trial that matches their specific diagnoses and treatment history by searching clinical trials for proton therapy in Penn's clinical trial database.
Can children receive proton therapy?
Children undergoing cancer treatment at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) receive proton therapy from Penn radiation oncologists at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center. This team has been working together for years, caring for children receiving radiation treatment. The CHOP/Penn team coordinates and delivers all aspects of children's cancer treatment and follow-up care.