We know patients have many questions when making decisions about cancer care and we’re here to help. Our experts provide answers and advise on Proton Therapy and Cancer Care.

Below are some of the most commonly asked questions about Proton Therapy. If you have additional questions at any time, please get in touch with us.

SAH Care Team
Dr Thornton explains Proton Therapy Treatment
Dr Thornton explains Proton Therapy Treatment


  • 1

    What are the general eligibility criteria for proton therapy ?

    Proton therapy works well for localized solid tumors, whether benign or malignant, so we can address and cure the tumor by treating that location. We try to limit ourselves to curative patients who have a good quality of life because they need to come daily for the treatments over potentially a long period. Some patients require as many as 45 treatments ; some as few as 4 or 5. Generally, it is a four- to eight-week course of treatment.
  • 2

    Is there an age restriction ?

    There is no age restriction. Our patient population ranges from babies to very spry 95-year-olds. Proton therapy is becoming a mainstay for treating pediatric tumors. By sparing still-growing tissue in children, proton therapy can reduce growth defects and secondary tumors caused by traditional radiation.
  • 3

    Can Proton Therapy be used on recurrent tumors ?

    Many patients have previously been treated with conventional therapy, and the tumors came back. They have no options at this point, but we may be able to re-radiate those patients with proton therapy.
  • 4

    Which cancers do you treat at SAH Care ?

    We are at the forefront of using Proton Therapy in innovative ways to fight a variety of cancers including brain and spine, breast, gastro-intestinal, head and neck, lung, prostate, other adult and pediatric cancers.
  • 5

    How do I know if I qualify to receive Proton Therapy ?

    Our physicians will review your diagnosis and medical records, talk with you, and determine if proton therapy is the best option for you.
  • 6

    What do I need to bring to my first consultation appointment ?

    You will be asked to bring all your medical records including medical summary, surgical notes, pathology reports, chemotherapy protocols, medications list and radiology reports. Our team will help you collect all the necessary medical documents, and will guide you as you request them from physician offices and have them sent to us. Click here to start the process.
  • 7

    I want to consider Proton Therapy for my child’s cancer treatment, but s/he can’t sit still. Can Proton Therapy still be used ?

    Yes, Proton Therapy can still be considered as an option. Children who are not able to lie still during treatment will be carefully and appropriately sedated under close clinical supervision by highly skilled pediatric anesthesiologists.
  • 8

    What are the side effects of Proton Therapy ?

    Proton Therapy has little side effects and varies with each patient. The extent to which side effects are experienced depends upon the patient’s age, medical history, diagnosis, tumor size and location. Some common side effects that patients have reported include a slight headache, fatigue, a small amount of hair loss, and a skin reaction restricted to the area where the proton beam was applied.
  • 9

    How long does each Proton Therapy session take ?

    The length of each Proton therapy session varies according to the patient. However, the average length of time for each session ranges between 30 and 45 minutes.
  • 10

    How many Proton Therapy treatments will I have ?

    Each patient is unique and will have a different treatment plan based on his/her medical diagnosis, cancer stage and size, peripheral tissue and organ structure and other medical conditions. Based on careful study of these factors, the physician will then write a prescription for the Proton Therapy that identifies in great detail the targeted area of treatment for the patient, the treatment dose, and the number of treatments. Based on this prescription, the medical physicists, dosimetrists and physicians will work together to customize the application of the Proton Therapy for the patient. Then they will know the length and number of the treatments. The physician will notify the patient when the treatment plan is complete.
  • 11

    How long does the treatment last ?

    Each patient’s treatment is prescribed according to their diagnosis, tumor size, location and its depth in the body. Each treatment session is 45 minutes, with sessions taking place five days a week for 6 to 8 weeks.
  • 12

    What will I feel when Proton Therapy is delivered ?

    During the delivery of the Protons, you will not feel any discomfort or pain.
  • 13

    What will I feel after the treatment ?

    While Proton Therapy has fewer side effects than conventional cancer treatment, you may still have some side effects such as irritation/redness at the treatment site, temporary hair loss and fatigue.
  • 14

    Once my treatment is over, what will I be required to do ?

    After completion of Proton Therapy treatments, your physician will discuss with you what exams are needed during your follow up care.

Watch patients and physicians describing Proton Therapy


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