Proton Therapy

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is a non–invasive, precise cancer treatment that uses a beam of protons moving at very high speeds to destroy the DNA of cancer cells, killing them and preventing them from multiplying.

The Benefits of Proton Therapy

Unlike conventional radiation that may affect surrounding healthy tissue as it enters the body and targets the tumor, proton therapy's precise, high dose of radiation is extremely targeted. This causes less damage to healthy, surrounding tissue.

Protons are packed with power. During treatment, the protons release their energy completely once they enter a tumor, limiting the radiation dose beyond the tumor, causing less damage to the healthy surrounding tissues and resulting in fewer side effects.

Because of its precision, proton therapy is perhaps the most advanced treatment for cancer tumors located close to critical organs and other highly sensitive areas, such as the spinal cord, heart and brain. Proton therapy is also an important treatment option for cancers that cannot be completely removed by surgery.

Patients that have already had a course of conventional radiation and are unable to receive more, may still be able to receive proton therapy.

Proton Therapy Facts

  • Proton therapy offers fewer reported side effects and complications
  • Normal, healthy, surrounding tissues receive 50% to 70% less radiation
  • Proton therapy offers an increased safe dose delivered to tumors
  • Cure rates may be increased with proton therapy
  • Proton therapy can re–treat tumors after recurrences

How Proton Therapy Works

At the center of the cyclotron, protons from hydrogen gas are guided in a circular path by a powerful magnet and are accelerated to higher and higher energies. As the protons gain energy, they spiral outward to the edge of the cyclotron magnet where, traveling at close to two–thirds of the speed of light, a high voltage deflects them out of the cyclotron into a beamline. The beamline is an airless tube that runs for about the length of a football field in which the proton beam is guided by other magnets into the treatment rooms.

Inside the treatment room, the proton beam exits the beamline through the "nozzle" where the beam energy is adjusted and a multi–leaf collimator precisely shapes it to match the unique 3–D profile of the patient's tumor delivering the most effective dose exactly where it's needed.

Multi–Leaf Collimator (MLC)

This tool enables the delivery of protons in the exact shape needed for your tumor, delivering optimum results, each and every time.

Pencil Beam Proton Therapy

Proton therapy delivered with PBS allows doctors to "paint" the tumor with a proton beam tuned to a precise range, as well as adjust the intensity of the beam to achieve the desired dose distribution.

Pencil beam scanning is ideal for complex cancers, in which the tumor is located near critical structures.

Kennedy Cancer Center patients who are recommended for proton therapy will be treated at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn Medicine in Philadelphia, PA.  There, you will find the world's largest and most advanced proton therapy capabilities.

Key Patient Contacts

Louise M. Baca RN MSN - Cancer Center Administrator

Oncology Nurse Navigator
Appointment scheduling and treatment navigation.

Abigale Hassel, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C - Social Worker
Patient support and information.

Cancer Center Accreditations

Commission on Cancer, ACR, NAPBC, Screening Center of Excellence

Upcoming Classes

Art Discovery Workshops - 06/22/2016
The act of creating art in a nourishing, peaceful environment often allows the mind and body to relax, to experience stillness, a zone of acceptance that carries on to daily activity. Explore your creativity through various art techniques, including drawing, painting, collage, and clay in a supportive and playful environment.



Well-Being Yoga - Tuesday Afternoon - 06/28/2016
Yoga, which increases flexibility, range of motion and strength, may bring additional benefits both during and after cancer treatments. When tension is released, energy flows more easily in the body, allowing participants to experience a sense of well-being.