Proton therapy relies on state-of-the-art technology, like our 220-ton cyclotron and specialized treatment rooms. Learn more about the technology we use in your care.
The driving force behind proton therapy is the cyclotron. First, electricity is applied to hydrogen gas. This makes the atoms eject protons. Next, the cyclotron spins these protons at speeds of up to 223 million miles per hour. Then, magnets guide a beam of protons, about the size of a human hair, from the cyclotron to the treatment rooms.
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center – Proton Therapy offers three different ways to deliver the proton beam: fixed beam, inclined beam and gantry. The method we choose for you will depend on your diagnosis and tumor location.
All treatment rooms feature a robotic patient-positioning system. This system helps move you into the exact right position each time. It ensures precise delivery of your therapy and cuts the time you have to be here for setup.
Before protons can be sent into your tumor, one of our dosimetrists creates a custom treatment plan for you. They use a powerful treatment-planning system that combines traditional imaging (like CTs, PETs and MRIs) with other technologies (contouring, dose computation and 4D compatibility). The software also has features to improve patient care, such as multi-criteria optimization, dose tracking, treatment adaptation and deformable registration. This special software helps make sure you have the best possible treatment plan that sends the prescribed amount of radiation to your tumor and the least amount of radiation to your healthy tissue.
When you come for treatment, you will get a patient badge. It includes an RFID antenna. This helps us improve your experience by giving us data on things like wait times and treatment times from when you enter the building until you exit.