There are several steps to any proton therapy or radiotherapy treatment. They consist of tumor visualization, treatment planning, treatment delivery, and follow-up. Again, our clinical team will determine which treatment technique is right for you, and will be able to answer any questions you may have before, during or after treatment.
In order to design your treatment plan, our treatment team will take images to reveal the exact location of the tumor, including its size and position relative to the surrounding tissues and organs. This is typically done with a CT scan. Depending on the general location of the tumor and other factors, additional types of scans may be taken, such as an MRI, a PET scan or an ultrasound scan. With the help of these scans or images, our clinical team can see details of the tumor from a variety of angles.Depending on your treatment needs, a custom body-mold (or mask if your head is being
treated) will be made, and tiny skin marks may be used to help ensure you’re in exactly the same position for each treatment session.
With the completed scans, our clinical team will use sophisticated treatment planning software to develop a three dimensional “picture” of the area where you will receive treatment. We’ll determine the amount of radiation to be delivered, the appropriate angles from which to deliver it, and the number of sessions needed to deliver the prescribed treatment. We’ll also take into account many other factors—including the
type of cancer being treated, its location and size, your medical history, and your lab test results—to create a plan uniquely designed for you.
Your cancer treatment will be delivered on the ProBeam ® system. Proton therapy is typically provided in a number of sessions or fractions, ranging from 5 to 35, usually with one session per treatment day.
Before each treatment session, your radiation therapist (RT) will help position you on the
treatment table, or “couch.” Our therapist may use the machine’s imaging system to take a new image of the tumor in that day’s treatment position to verify the correct target. Adjustments to your position may then be made to precisely match the position that was planned for you. Our therapist will be in constant contact with you through cameras and microphones in the treatment room. The gantry will rotate to the angles determined by your treatment plan. The pencil beam scanning system delivers the proton beam layer-by-layer, spot-by-spot, like a 3D printer. This helps deliver accurate treatment while minimizing radiation exposure to surrounding healthy tissue. You will not see or feel the proton beam.
After you complete your treatment, our radiation oncologist and healthcare team will monitor your progress with a series of follow-up visits. These visits can include a physical examination, blood screening, additional imaging, and other tests that may be needed. Your follow-up appointments are also a good opportunity for you and your caregivers to ask any questions about your progress, or inquire about the status of your overall health.