“Basically we take hydrogen atoms and accelerate the proton of the hydrogen atoms to a very high speed, aiming it at tumors. As a result, we can treat with 1 millimeter precision around the visual system, spinal chord, and other areas.”Dr. Allan Thornton
THE PROTON BEAM
In traditional radiation therapy, x-rays deliver the high-energy radiation that damages the DNA of the cancer cells. In Proton Therapy, positively charged particles called protons provide the radiation to destroy the tumor.
Protons are subatomic particles that are accelerated by a device called a cyclotron to reach specific speeds in beams that penetrate the body. As positively charged protons enter the body, they slow down and interact with negatively charged electrons, releasing energy (also known as radiation).
Proton Therapy in Cancer Treatment
The unique properties of protons allow physicians to precisely control when and where the radiation energy is released into the patient’s body. In fact, they can be primed to release a burst of energy at a specific point in the body and then stop, without traveling through the entire body.
Proton Therapy vs Conventional Radiotherapy
X-rays cannot be pinpointed nor controlled in this manner. This ability to narrowly isolate the delivery of radiation means that tumors can be specifically targeted and treated, while minimizing damage to healthy cells close by.