Proton therapy is a technologically advanced, precise treatment that allows radiation to be focused directly on a tumor, with a goal of minimizing radiation to healthy tissue. Research shows that proton therapy can minimize short- and long-term side effects, reduce the occurrence of secondary tumors, and improve a patient’s quality of life.
There are fewer than 100 proton therapy centers worldwide that offer this state-of-the-art technology, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center - Proton Therapy is led by world-class experts in proton therapy, and is the only facility of its kind in a seven-state region.
Adults and children
Proton radiation therapy can be used to treat a broad range of tumors in adults and children, such as brain, central nervous system, gastrointestinal tract, head and neck, breast, lung and prostate, as well as sarcomas. It can also help patients whose cancers have recurred, and patients who can’t tolerate additional conventional radiation therapy.
What is proton therapy?
Proton therapy is an advanced radiation treatment that precisely targets tumors, with the goal of minimizing radiation to healthy tissue and improving the lives of patients while they’re fighting cancer and after. Learn more about what proton therapy is, its benefits and how it can help cancer patients.
At your first in-person appointment, you’ll meet with your radiation oncologist and a nurse to discuss proton therapy, your treatment and any tests you may need before treatment can begin.
You’ll also meet other members of your care team, such as a radiation therapist and patient navigator/concierge, who will work with you throughout your treatment and follow-up care. This is also a time for us to get to know you and your family and for you to get answers to any remaining questions you may have about proton radiation therapy.
Simulation and planning
After your first appointment and you’ve completed any additional tests you may need, we will schedule you for a computed tomography simulation (CT) scan. This scan will be used by your care team to create a personalized treatment plan for you. The plan will provide important details, including the exact dose of protons your physician will need to precisely target your tumor.
This scan will take up to two hours, including preparation time. A nurse will also explain the process from CT simulation through the end of treatment and answer any questions you may have.
Treatments are usually given five days a week, for a period of one to nine weeks. The total number of treatments needed depends on the location and size of the tumor. We'll guide you through every step of the treatment process, and make sure you and your family have the information and resources you need.
The radiation oncologists who provide clinical care at our proton therapy facility will plan your course of therapy, manage your clinical care and conduct weekly check-ups to ensure that your treatment is on track. All of our physicians are specialists in proton therapy and treat all disease types at Fred Hutch.
Your radiation oncologist is the leader of your personal care team and will manage your care with the support of other highly skilled medical professionals trained in providing proton therapy, including radiation therapists, nurses, physicists and dosimetrists. We integrate supportive care services, such as social workers, child life specialists, registered dietitians and integrative medicine specialists, to promote your well-being in every sense.
The physician-scientists at Fred Hutch have been at the forefront of cancer research for decades, in order to help bring patients the best treatment options possible.
Patients who participate in our clinical studies often have the first chance to benefit from new treatment approaches and contribute to medical science regarding proton therapy.
Telehealth consultations available
We now offer convenient telehealth appointments for new and existing patients from the state of Washington to discuss treatment options and follow-up care from home.
During a telehealth consultation, you will meet with your physician via videoconferencing or by phone to discuss your cancer type and treatment options, including proton therapy. If you are an existing Fred Hutch patient, you may also have the option to complete your follow-up appointments during treatment via telehealth.
When the time comes to visit our proton therapy facility in person, you can rest assured that we are taking increased precautions to keep both patients and staff safe in light of the COVID-19 virus.
After 12 years serving in the military, followed by 20 years running a computer business, Reginald “Reggie” Edge now spends his well-earned retirement on what means the most to him. On a given day, you can find him going on walks with his wife, Renee, spending time and vacationing with his grandchildren, completing woodworking projects around their home and biking around his community in Spanaway, Washington.
Tina Christian-Lenson has always understood the value of a healthy lifestyle and regular cancer screenings; after all, she works in health care. But when she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer, she became the patient — and gained a new perspective on how important it is for patients to advocate for their care.
In October of 2019, Barry, who is 73 years old, and therefore part of a high-risk age group for prostate cancer, received a Prostate-Specific Antigen (PSA) test during his annual check-up. A few weeks later, following their daily evening walk, they were reminded to check his PSA test results when they saw a prostate cancer story on the local news channel.
As a father of two young boys and a modern-day renaissance man, Mark Miller of Bellingham lives an active life that would make most people’s head spin just thinking about it. In between his flights as a commercial airline pilot for a major airline, he also works as a flight instructor, youth hockey coach and referee, STEM education volunteer, and award-winning school bus driver.