Advanced radiation therapy with few side effects

Proton Therapy

Patients at John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, as well as those throughout the Hackensack Meridian Health network, have access to an innovative, targeted cancer treatment called proton beam therapy (“proton therapy”) through an affiliation with ProCure Proton Therapy Center (ProCure NJ) in Somerset, New Jersey. With the addition of proton therapy to our arsenal of radiation therapy technologies, John Theurer Cancer Center can connect patients with the complete range of advanced radiation treatments available to treat cancer.

How Is Proton Therapy Different?

Conventional radiation therapy uses x-ray particles called photons to target tumors. However, some radiation from the photons “scatters” to nearby tissue. More energy is released as x-rays travel through the patient’s body, both before and after they reach the tumor site, damaging healthy tissue along their path.

Protons, however, only deliver radiation to a specific depth in the body, and then they stop. They can be precisely controlled so most of their radiation ends up directly in the tumor. Compared with standard x-ray radiation, protons deliver up to 60% less radiation to healthy tissue around a tumor. This means there is less damage to healthy tissue and few potential side effects and complications. This is an especially important benefit when a tumor is located near critical organs or structures such as the brain, heart, or spinal cord.

ProCure NJ offers Pencil Beam Scanning (“PBS”) — the most advanced form of proton therapy — which USES an ultra-narrow proton beam that deposits a radiation dose more precisely within a tumor. PBS allows physicians to precisely “paint” the tumor with radiation, minimizing radiation exposure to healthy tissue and reducing the risk of side effects.

Who Can Receive Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy is effective for treating certain types of cancers as well as some non-cancerous tumors. It may be an option for some patients with these types of cancers:

  • Prostate cancer
  • Brain tumors
  • Certain cancers in children
  • Head and neck tumors
  • Base-of-skull tumors
  • Tumors near the spine
  • Lung tumors
  • Esophageal cancers
  • Breast cancers
  • Lymphomas
  • Testicular cancers

Proton therapy is not for everyone. If radiation therapy is an option for you, your doctors will help you determine the most appropriate treatment for your cancer.

Proton Therapy for Children

Proton therapy can be especially beneficial for children, who can experience more serious short- and long-term side effects from x-ray radiation than adults. Since their bodies are still growing, children are more sensitive to healthy tissue damage caused by x-rays. Clinical studies suggest that proton therapy reduces the risk of growth and developmental problems, as well as secondary tumors. Children receiving cancer care at Hackensack University Medical Center’s Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital also have access to proton therapy at ProCure NJ.

Where Proton Therapy Is Given

Because of its unique technology, proton therapy is typically offered at freestanding centers like ProCure NJ, rather than being incorporated into individual hospitals. Patients at John Theurer Cancer Center who will receive proton therapy will travel to ProCure NJ at 103 Cedar Grove Lane in Somerset, about an hour south of Hackensack, for their treatments.

Making an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with a radiation oncologist at John Theurer Cancer Center, call 551-996-5900.

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