Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer

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Phone: 206.306.2800

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Proton therapy is an advanced treatment that sends radiation to the exact size, shape and depth of your prostate tumor. It allows your physician to treat your cancer while helping to protect healthy tissue nearby.

Kevin's Answer / Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center - Proton Therapy

"Research all of the treatment options available to you, as opposed to taking the first recommendation you receive. It’s critical that you take an active part in your care and that you choose the treatment option that best meets your needs. That’s why I chose proton therapy."

— Reggie, prostate cancer patient

Target Your Prostate with Precision

With prostate cancer, patients often have a wide range of treatment options, like surgery, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, radiation and more. If radiation is needed, proton therapy can be a safer choice.

With standard X-ray radiation therapy, the radiation dose is highest right where the X-rays enter your body. The X-rays keep giving off radiation as they go through your tumor and the tissue beyond. With proton radiation therapy, treatment is sent right to your tumor. The goal is for less radiation to reach your surrounding tissue.

prostate scan
These pictures show treatment for a prostate tumor. The colored areas get radiation. The gray and white areas do not. With proton therapy (left), less healthy tissue is exposed to radiation. With standard X-ray radiation therapy (right), more healthy tissue is exposed

Proton therapy uses a unique feature of protons: They give off the most radiation right before they come to a stop. That’s how we target treatment to your tumor and no further.

Bragg Peak Graph
With X-ray radiation therapy (dark blue line), the radiation dose peaks soon after entering the body. Then it gradually decreases, often long before reaching the tumor. Healthy tissue around the tumor receives much of the dose instead. With proton therapy (medium blue and purple lines), treatment conforms more closely to the tumor. This means less radiation is deposited in the healthy tissue in front of the tumor compared to X-ray therapy. Almost none is deposited in the healthy tissue beyond the tumor.

More precision means less damage to healthy cells in your urethra, bladder, bowel and sexual organs. This can translate to fewer short- and long-term side effects and secondary cancers (which can be caused by treatment).

If you have prostate cancer, the radiation oncologists at our proton therapy facility can decide if proton therapy is right for you and tell you more about this option.

Pencil-Beam Scanning

Our radiation oncologists use pencil-beam scanning (PBS) to treat patients with proton therapy. PBS “paints” your prostate with a lot of very thin, very exact beams of protons. The beams are accurate down to millimeters. PBS sends very fast pulses of protons to each planned spot within the tumor until the entire cancer is treated. This method can lower the amount of radiation to healthy tissue even more. That may mean your physician can send a higher, more effective dose to your tumor. 

Proton Therapy Facts

  • Proton therapy may help preserve your testosterone level and lower your risk of secondary tumors in the future.
  • Treatments are safe, noninvasive (no cuts to the skin are needed) and painless for most patients, helping you recover faster and keep living your life.
  • Appointments usually take 15–60 minutes. You do not need to stay overnight in a hospital and can go on with your normal routine before and after each visit.
  • Proton therapy may be an option for you even if you’ve already had radiation for cancer. In fact, it may be your only option for getting more radiation treatment. 
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved proton therapy for clinical use in 1988. More than 200,000 people worldwide have had this form of treatment.

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Find a Provider

Our proton therapy team is here not only to treat your disease, but to listen to you and take care of you and your family. They are experts in proton therapy who focus on giving you personalized treatment and who understand your questions, needs and concerns.

Wildlife photographer Kevin Murphy chooses proton therapy for prostate cancer Kevin watched and waited seven years with low-grade prostate cancer. When it was time for treatment, he chose proton therapy. August 23, 2023
Research leads Seattle geologist to proton therapy He decided proton therapy was right for his prostate cancer. November 10, 2022