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What is Proton Therapy?

What is Proton Therapy?

Only 42 Oncology Centers in the world offer proton therapy; twenty-four centers are in the United States, and three centers are in Florida, but Ackerman Cancer Center is the only private physician-owned practice to offer proton therapy. We are proud to offer this exceptional level of treatment to the Southeast. 

Proton therapy is the most precise form of radiation. It uses energy particles to destroy cancerous cells while protecting healthy tissue.

A beam of proton particles delivers a powerful dose of radiation to the precise site of the tumor. This process allows Ackerman Cancer Center’s expert radiation oncologists to treat cancer with a significant reduction in damage to healthy organs and surrounding tissue. This translates to fewer side effects than seen with conventional radiation therapy.

Proton therapy is sometimes used alone in cancer treatment, and may be also combined with surgery and/or chemotherapy.

Advantages of Proton Therapy

  • Healthy organs and tissue are exposed to significantly less radiation than with conventional radiation therapies
  • The tumor can receive a higher dose of radiation than with traditional radiation treatments, resulting in better tumor control
  • Reduced risk of cancer recurrence
  • Fewer side effects and complications
  • Lower risk of radiation-induced second malignancies
  • Quick timeline to treatment
  • Brighter quality of life during and after treatment
  • Painless and non-invasive

Examples of some of the measurable benefits of proton therapy:

Breast Cancer

88% reduction of radiation dose to the heart in patients with left-sided breast cancer

Prostate Cancer

Lower risk of urinary incontinence and erectile dysfunction

Head and Neck Cancers

Decreased need for alternative feeding plans (such as the use of a feeding tube)

How Does it Work?

Protons are sub-atomic particles that move quickly through healthy tissue, depositing cancer-destroying radiation at the tumor site. Proton therapy is the most precise, advanced radiation treatment modalities available.

This deposition of radiation energy in the tumor is known as the Bragg Peak. Since virtually all of the proton’s energy is focused on the tumor, and no radiation travels beyond the Bragg Peak, there is a tremendous reduction of radiation exposure and damage to adjacent tissues and organs.

Conventional Radiation

Is Proton Therapy Right For Me?

Our doctors and nurses are available to discuss whether proton therapy is right for you. Some of the questions we may ask to guide that conversation could include:


  • Has a solid tumor been identified? Proton therapy is an extremely effective treatment option for localized tumors that have not spread to other areas.
  • Is your cancer new or recurring? Proton therapy can be used to target recurrent tumors in areas that were previously treated with conventional radiation.
  • Is your cancer located near a sensitive area? Proton therapy is particularly advantageous for treating irregularly shaped tumors, hard-to-reach tumors, and tumors near vital organs and critical structures.
  • Do you plan to seek additional treatments? Proton therapy can be used alone or in conjunction with other cancer treatments like traditional radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.
  • What weight does your quality of life during treatment carry in your decision-making process? Ongoing research continues to demonstrate the superior benefits of proton therapy, compared with conventional radiation therapy and surgery in some cancers. We treat all cancers, using all modalities of radiation; our expert radiation oncologists will develop a personalized care plan that is unique to your diagnosis and goals.
To find out if proton therapy is right for you, call (904) 880-5522 to schedule a consultation with our care team.