Proton Beam Radiotherapy | Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center | Loyola Medicine

Proton Beam Radiotherapy

Particle Beam Radiation Therapy for Cancer Treatment

Proton beam radiotherapy is a cancer treatment option for certain select tumors or lesions. Proton beams, as opposed to beams of gamma rays or X-rays, can be more closely controlled, making it an ideal treatment for certain types of tumors or lesions. Proton beam radiotherapy also offers high precision, so that radiation can be delivered with less risk to healthy tissues and organs.

Proton beam radiotherapy is generally well-suited for tumors in children. It is also suited for tumors or lesions in adults near a critical organ, or tumors or lesions with an irregular shape located in critical areas of the body. Using protons (the positively charged particles of atoms), higher doses of radiation can be targeted to these specific areas. Unlike the energy used in X-rays, proton beams will stop releasing energy and radiation dose once they reach their target (X-rays continue to release energy and radiation dose beyond their targets, potentially causing damage to healthy tissue in the body).

Why Choose Loyola?

Loyola is one of only a few facilities that offer proton beam therapy in North America. Through our partnership with Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center in Warrenville, our experienced proton therapy physicians have been working to provide excellent clinical care using proton beam radiotherapy. Our physicians and scientists have also been involved in research aimed at developing proton radiography and other means of optimizing this type of cancer treatment. 


How Does Proton Beam Radiotherapy Work?

Before treatment, you will have several imaging tests such as CT or MRI scans.  During these tests, you will be put in the exact same position that will be used for treatment.

You will receive treatment in an outpatient setting, meaning that you will not require hospital admission. The number of treatment sessions depends on the type and stage of the cancer. Your radiation oncologist will determine how many sessions are right for you.

In general, you can expect each treatment session to last about 15 to 30 minutes. Time will vary based on a number of factors including the areas being treated, number of treatment segments and how easy/difficult it is for the radiation oncologist to see the tumor site from the CT or MRI scan.

For more information, visit and/or contact James Welsh, MD, Director of Clinical and Translational Research, at 708-216-2575.