Proton therapy

Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy — a treatment that uses high-energy beams to treat tumors.

Radiation therapy using X-rays has long been used to treat cancers and noncancerous (benign) tumors. Proton therapy is a newer type of radiation therapy that uses energy from positively charged particles called protons.

Proton therapy has shown promise in treating several kinds of cancer. Research of proton therapy continues, as doctors try to determine who may benefit from proton therapy treatment.

Proton therapy isn't widely available in the United States.

Why it's done Risks How you prepare What you can expect Results

Proton therapy is used as a treatment for cancer and some noncancerous tumors. Proton therapy may be used as the only treatment for your condition. Or it may be used in conjunction with other treatments, such as surgery and chemotherapy.

Proton therapy is sometimes used to treat certain conditions, such as:

  • Brain tumors
  • Cancer in children
  • Esophageal cancer
  • Eye melanoma
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Rectal cancer
  • Tumors affecting the spine
  • Tumors in the base of the skull

Clinical trials are investigating proton therapy as a treatment for other cancers, such as:

  • Anal cancer
  • Bladder cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Soft tissue sarcoma

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. Terms of use