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Proton therapy is a form of of radiation therapy that uses proton beams to shrink tumors in adult cancers, especially tumors that are located near vital organs and in pediatric cancer patients whose bodies are still growing. The Proton Therapy Center at MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando will treat cancers of the brain, spine, lung and prostate as well as pediatric cancers. Proton therapy, because it can so precisely target tumors, is proven to be very effective at treating such cancers, and patients report fewer side effects.



The 15,000 square foot Proton Therapy Center will be located along Orange Avenue between Orlando Regional Medical Center and MD Anderson - Orlando. It will consist of three floors – two above ground and one underground – in order to accommodate the MEVION S250 superconducting synchrocyclotron proton accelerator. MD Anderson - Orlando will begin treating patients with proton therapy at the beginning of 2015, and expects to treat more than 30 patients a day with the new proton accelerator.

We join an elite group of centers around the world to offer proton therapy. To date, there are only 41 proton therapy centers in the world, just 10 of those are here in the United States.


Questions and Answers About Proton Therapy Treatment



What is proton therapy?
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation treatment which is used by radiation oncologists to deliver highly-focused radiation to tumors while sparing surrounding healthy tissue.

How is proton therapy different from conventional radiation treatment?

While most radiation treatment (radiotherapy) is delivered using X-rays (photons), proton radiotherapy utilizes positively charged particles (protons) which consist of a hydrogen atom stripped of its electron. Protons are harnessed for treatment using complex devices known as cyclotrons or synchrotrons.

How are protons potentially better for radiation treatment than X-rays?
When a tumor is treated with conventional radiation, the X-ray beams deliver their radiation dose to the tumor also deposit a great deal of dose along their path through healthy tissue. Protons deposit the bulk of their dose into the tumor and very little dose along their path through the healthy tissue, thereby minimizing the acute and long-term side effects of treatment.

Radiation oncologists exploit the ability of protons to release dose in a very narrow range of depth in tissue known as the Bragg Peak. The depth in tissue of the Bragg Peak may be manipulated to allow precise proton dose delivery into tumors.

What are the advantages of proton therapy for a patient?
  • Decreased dose to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor reduces acute and long-term side effects of treatment.
  • Decreased dose to healthy tissue along the entry and exit of the beam also decreases the risk of growth and developmental abnormalities in pediatric patients and the risk of radiation-induced malignancies.
  • When a tumor is directly adjacent to a critical organ/structure such as the spinal cord or optic nerves, proton therapy may allow for preservation of function while delivering effective doses to the tumor, which would not be feasible with conventional radiation.
  • Improved dose shaping and sparing of normal tissue may allow for escalation of dose to select tumors, potentially improving efficacy.
  • Proton therapy may allow for retreatment of recurrent tumors which have been previously irradiated. In some cases, the tight dose fall-off of protons allows for safe retreatment of tumors which may not be possible with conventional radiation.

What types of cancer is proton therapy suitable for?
  • Many types of cancers may benefit from the superior dose-shaping characteristics of proton therapy but conventional radiotherapy remains the standard therapy for most tumors. Each case must be assessed individually by your radiation oncologist to determine the best individualized therapy.
  • The lower deposition of the radiation dose into normal tissue is of particular benefit for pediatric cancers where dose to normal tissue may result in growth/developmental abnormalities or in radiation-induced cancers.
  • Proton therapy may also benefit adult malignancies where the tumor is in close proximity to a normal structure that is sensitive to radiation, such as tumors involving the brain and spine.
  • Early stage prostate cancer is a common malignancy where the dose-shaping characteristics of protons may result in decreased side effects of treatment, as dose to the rectum and bladder may be reduced relative to X-ray radiation. Your radiation oncologist at MDACCO will carefully evaluate your particular tumor and select from a range of advanced therapeutic options including proton therapy.

When will Proton therapy be available at MD Anderson Cancer Center Orlando?
Our center is projected to be completed by early 2015, please check our website for updates.



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