Beaumont’s Proton Therapy Center at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak is the only center in Michigan to offer a precise form of radiation therapy to treat cancer.
Craig Stevens, M.D., Ph.D., chairman, Radiation Oncology, Beaumont Health answered some common questions about how proton therapy works.
What is proton therapy?
Proton therapy is a high-tech alternative to X-ray radiation that offers greater precision to destroy cancerous cells and spare adjacent healthy tissue with fewer side effects. Proton therapy uses positively charged atomic particles, traveling up to two-thirds the speed of light, to fight cancer.
What are the benefits of proton therapy?
- fewer side effects and complications than conventional radiation therapy
- proven clinical outcomes for many cancers
- improved quality of life during and after treatment because of fewer side effects
- can treat (and possibly cure) patients who have failed X-ray therapy
What types of cancer can Proton Therapy treat?
- brain and base of skull tumors (less dose to the brain, optic nerves and spinal cord)
- breast cancer (less dose to the heart and lung in left breast cancer)
- gastrointestinal, abdominal and pelvic tumors (lower dose to small bowel, liver, kidneys and bladder)
- head and neck tumors (less dose to salivary glands and oral cavity)
- lung and thoracic tumors (less dose to the heart, lung and often esophagus than X-rays)
- pediatric cancers (reduced side effects and reduced second cancers)
- prostate cancer (lower doses to rectum and bladder, especially with absorbable spacer)
- recurrent tumors (potential to cure tumors that failed conventional radiation)
- soft tissue tumors/sarcomas (advantages depend on tumor site)
Where is Beaumont’s Proton Therapy Center?
Michigan’s first and only operational Proton Therapy Center is located at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak. The center features a spacious waiting room, private changing rooms, two anesthesia bays, consultation rooms and the treatment room, which includes a Phillips Ambience Light System that allows patients to choose a lighting theme for each treatment session.
Is proton therapy as effective at treating cancer as conventional radiation therapy?
Yes, and in many cases, it’s better. With pencil beam scanning optimized for intensity modulated proton therapy, proton therapy at Beaumont is both fastest to deliver and has the best ability to spare healthy tissue.
For pediatric patients , this means less damage to growing organs; for patients with breast cancer , it means a decreased risk of heart and lung damage due to radiation exposure; and for patients who have already received previous radiation therapy, proton therapy may be their only treatment option.
What will I feel like during the course of my proton therapy?
Most patients report experiencing no discomfort or sensation during the actual proton beam treatment.
What are the side effects from proton therapy?
This depends on the tumor location. Generally, proton therapy reduces the radiation dose to many organs nearby the cancer, thus potentially reducing side effects of treatment.
How long does proton therapy last?
The length of treatment depends on the type of cancer being treated. Patients receive daily treatments as an outpatient, Monday through Friday, over the course of several weeks.
Each proton therapy session lasts about 30 minutes. Our team creates customized treatment plans for each patient.
Why choose Beaumont for radiation therapy?
Beaumont’s radiation oncologists are world renown leaders in radiation oncology and experts in finding innovative ways to use technology to treat cancer; and because they each specialize in one or two types of cancer, they’re always looking for new ways to improve patient experiences and outcomes.
How do I find more information?
Visit www.beaumont.org/proton or speak with a proton nurse navigator at 248-565-3968.