What is Proton Therapy

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Simulation & Planning

Simulation and Planning

Extraordinary Care Down To The Smallest, Proton-Sized Details.

During your consultation, your doctor may decide additional tests are necessary to plan your treatment, such as blood work, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or positron emission tomography (PET) scans. Your Care Team nurse will help you coordinate and schedule any tests. If you do not have a local primary doctor, your nurse will make sure you get all the additional services and therapies you need.

Treatment planning

After your consultation and any additional tests, we will schedule you for a computed tomography  (CT) scan at the Center. This will take up to two hours, including preparation time. Your nurse also will use this time to help you understand the treatment process.

You may have had a CT scan in the past to diagnose your tumor or for another medical reason, but this particular CT scan is necessary to gather images of your tumor and normal tissue from many angles so your doctor and other scientists can perform treatment simulation and planning.

We use these images to create a treatment plan specifically for you, with details on the exact dose of protons you need precisely targeted to your tumor. Depending on the location of your tumor, you may receive a contrast agent, or dye, before your CT scan so the tumor is easier to see. The dye may be injected through an intravenous (IV) line, taken orally, or administered through a catheter.

A Radiation Therapist will guide you through your CT scan (also referred to as “CT Simulation”). During your appointment, the Radiation Therapist will work closely with you to create an accurate and reproducible treatment position specific to your individual needs. This is achieved by use of special immobilization devices such as: masks, leg molds, headrests, sponges, and pillows. Many of the devices that are used are customizable and made just for you to ensure that you receive an accurate treatment.

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Using your CT images, a team of proton therapy experts will develop an individual treatment plan for you, determining the number of treatments you need and the best technology for your care.

The machinists will create custom devices, including brass apertures and wax compensators in the shape of your tumor. Many times your Care Team will use multiple devices, depending on the location and complexity of your tumor. The devices are attached to the nozzle of the machine that delivers the proton beam. They shape the beam to the precise shape and depth of your tumor.

Most patients have therapy five days a week (excluding weekends and holidays) for 4 to 9 weeks, depending on the total number needed. Occasionally your doctor may order additional treatments or breaks in your regular treatment schedule.