Proton therapy treats cancer with remarkable precision by using radiation to eliminate cancer cells in a very specific, targeted area, reaching only the tumor and sparing surrounding tissues.
Experience, Team Approach and Research Deliver Outstanding Care
The radiation specialists at Montefiore Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center bring broad expertise to proton therapy for people with cancer. Montefiore Einstein has been providing proton therapy treatment since its breakthrough development in 2012, years before most other cancer centers in the nation. Our team has since grown to include more than 20 physicists and 15 doctors who work closely together as one team to prepare you for proton therapy treatment.
Montefiore Einstein was a founding member of the New York Proton Center along with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and the Mount Sinai Health System. Through this center, we provide the most advanced level of proton therapy in a comfortable state-of-the art setting where a doctor and proton specialist will stay at your side throughout your session.
A National Research Leader
Our doctors and scientists, who rank as some of the very best in the nation, lead a number of research projects designed to improve proton and other types of radiation therapy. Through our clinical trials, patients can access novel scientific approaches and emerging life-saving treatments that are at the forefront of clinical care and academic research.
Our team has published research establishing criteria for identifying the best candidates for proton therapy. The research, published in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology, found that proton therapy:
Minimizes the risk of organ damage
Is effective for children whose organs are still developing
Leaves uninvolved glands near a tumor site intact
About Proton Therapy
Protons are subatomic particles with a positive electric charge, which allows them to be controlled. When you receive proton therapy for cancer, experts guide a high-energy proton beam to a highly targeted area of your body specifically where the cancer exists.
Proton therapy offers treatment that is far more efficient and precise than other radiation treatments, which use X-rays. The proton beam does not affect any healthy tissue, and you do not feel anything during this treatment.
Proton Therapy for Many Types of Cancer
Most people with cancer need some form of radiation therapy, either on its own or in combination with chemotherapy or surgery. We use proton therapy to treat certain cancers in children. We also use proton therapy to target tumors in areas that are challenging to reach, such as in the head, neck, brain, breast, prostate and spine.
Our compassionate, patient-focused approach recognizes that every patient’s treatment goals and needs are unique. We work with you and your family to ensure you understand all your radiation therapy options and how the course of treatment will likely evolve.
Pencil Beam Technology Proton Therapy
At Montefiore Einstein Comprehensive Cancer Center, we use the most advanced form of proton therapy: pencil beam technology. This technology offers unparalleled precision, scanning your tumor and calculating radiation doses and delivery to the exact size and shape of the tumor.
Pencil beam technology is particularly effective for complex challenges, including tumors that are:
- Difficult to reach
- Irregularly shaped
- Recurring following prior treatment
- Wrapped around critical organs
Benefits of pencil beam technology include delivery of a higher, more effective treatment dose with minimum risk to surrounding tissue, and a lessened risk of the type of side effects associated with conventional radiation.
Proton Therapy: What to Expect
Your multidisciplinary care team includes many specialists whose goal is to meet your health needs, They collaborate to provide you with the best treatment possible through a personalized care plan built around your diagnosis and lifestyle.
Planning Your Treatment
Your care team will review and develop a treatment plan based on your type of cancer, stage, and tumor location and size. We use advanced imaging and specialized software to map out the:
- Best position for radiation delivery
- Exact treatment site on your body
- Most direct path for the proton beam
You may receive a temporary or permanent tattoo to mark the treatment site. We also complete one or more simulations before treatment to ensure all calculations are correct.
Depending on your diagnosis, your treatment may occur five days a week for several weeks, or you may only require it just a few times, or only once.
Before radiation begins, you will be positioned on the treatment table to ensure the therapy is delivered precisely where it needs to go. An imaging scan will be taken to ensure you are in the correct position.
Once everything is aligned, we begin your treatment. The proton therapy machine includes the gantry, a large unit that emits the proton beam. The gantry is fixed to a circular track and can glide 360 degrees from the ceiling to the floor around your treatment table. You will hear the machine, but you won’t feel the radiation.
You can return to your normal activities right after each radiation session.
Common Side Effects
Side effects from proton therapy usually start after a few weeks of treatment. You may experience:
- Hair loss at the treatment site
- Irritated, red skin at the treatment site
- Soreness at the treatment site
Your care team will help you manage symptoms and side effects of your treatment.