Proton therapy is a form of radiation treatment that targets protons at tumors to kill cancer cells. It delivers higher, more effective doses of radiation than traditional X-ray radiation therapy with great precision, significantly limiting radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue.
For someone with prostate cancer, reduced radiation exposure to nearby healthy organs, like the bladder and rectum, means reduced risk of genitourinary or gastrointestinal complications.
Benefits of Proton Therapy for Treating Prostate Cancer
Proton therapy can be used after surgery or in combination with chemotherapy or standard X-ray radiation treatment. It can be used to treat recurrent tumors, even if you have already received radiation. There are fewer short- and long-term side effects with proton therapy compared to standard X-ray radiation, including very low risk of urinary, bowel, or sexual side effects.
Researchers are studying whether proton therapy may help improve treatment outcomes in men with prostate cancer whose disease characteristics put them at high risk of relapse. Proton therapy may enable doctors to apply more effective systemic therapies—novel therapeutics or chemotherapy—in combination with radiotherapy without increasing the toxicity of side effects. Proton therapy may also allow higher doses of radiation to be safely used, which may improve tumor control.
Receiving Proton Therapy
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) patients receive proton therapy at the SCCA Proton Therapy Center, located on UW Medicine’s Northwest Hospital & Medical Center campus (view map and directions). Most patients receive therapy five days a week for up to eight weeks. A complete proton therapy session can range from 15 to 60 minute; the time spend delivering protons to the tumor is only about one minute.
If your doctors recommend proton therapy for you, they will talk with you about this option.
Learn more about proton therapy for prostate cancer.