Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is a proton?
A. A proton is a subatomic particle with a positive charge. Protons can be manipulated to stop and deliver radiation directly at a tumor – and travel no further.
Q. What is proton therapy?
A. Proton therapy is a form of external beam radiation treatment using powerful technology to generate a beam that penetrates the body from the outside. This is different from conventional radiation, which uses X-rays.
Q. How effective is proton therapy?
A. There are hundreds of peer-reviewed journal articles that have been published in the medical literature showing that proton therapy is highly effective in treating many tumor sites compared to alternative therapies. In the United States, there are currently more than 100 active proton therapy studies.
Q. How accurate is proton therapy?
A. The proton beam can be delivered with accuracy of up to 1 millimeter and is by far the most accurate form of external beam radiation treatment available today. Through the use of pencil beam technology, protons can be controlled to conform precisely to the shape of the tumor and to release most of their energy within the tumor.
Q. Is proton therapy painful?
A. The treatment is non-invasive and painless. Most people feel no physical sensation form the proton beam, hear very little noise and experience very little discomfort.
Q. Are there any side effects?
A. Proton therapy does not produce the serious side effects associated with conventional X-ray radiation and has been found to be particularly effective in brain and spinal cord tumors where secondary radiation from traditional X-rays can lead to learning disabilities, reduced IQ scores and other potential lifelong side effects.
Q. Does my child have to stay overnight?
A. No. Proton therapy is an outpatient treatment performed in the Scripps Proton Therapy Center.
Q. Can my child still keep his or her daily routine while getting treatment?
A. After treatment, patients may resume their daily routine unless sedation is required. In those cases, the family should allow several hours for their child to be prepared for treatment and to recover from sedation.
Q. What if the Proton Therapy Center is not nearby?
A. We can help you with hotel accommodations or other living arrangements if you want your child to receive treatment here in San Diego.
To request assistance with travel and lodging, please email or fax this Inquiry Form to our International Services Department. You can request other services as well. (See the list of services on the International Services page.)