What to Expect During Proton Therapy

With every visit to the Marjorie and Leonard Williams Center for Proton Therapy at the Orlando Health Cancer Institute, you can expect to be treated with warmth and compassion by each member of our team. These caring professionals serve as consistent points of contact for information and resources.

Evaluation

During your first appointment, you will meet our proton therapy team, including one of our radiation oncologists. You will discuss and evaluate your treatment goals and develop a personalized treatment plan. The plan may include only proton therapy, a combination of therapies or a completely different therapy. If the team recommends proton therapy, they will schedule a series of planning sessions to help them further develop your treatment plan.

Before Proton Therapy

Before proton therapy, your radiation oncologist will use a CT scan – and possibly an MRI and/or PET scan – to reconstruct the tumor and surrounding areas. This is called a “CT simulation appointment.” By reconstructing the tumor through imaging, your radiation oncologist can plan accurate, precise radiation dosing that targets the tumor while protecting the surrounding normal tissue.

Once your personalized treatment plan is complete, and before your first treatment, you will participate in a “dress rehearsal,” which ensures your positioning and dosage are accurate. Your physician will review every aspect of treatment during this time. If they give approval, treatment may begin either the same day or the next day.

 

During Proton Therapy

Each treatment session lasts approximately 30 minutes – although this may vary depending on the tumor’s location and delivery plan. Most of the session is spent ensuring you are in the proper position before beam delivery. The actual time the beam is on is just a few minutes.

Though the procedure is not painful, some patients may experience discomfort from lying on the table and keeping their body in the necessary position.

Depending on the patient, proton therapy may be done for several weeks. Usually, patients are treated five days a week and can expect to spend about an hour each day at the Cancer Institute.

After Proton Therapy

On your last day of treatment, you will be surrounded by your proton therapy team to “ring the bell.” This celebrates the completion of your treatment and honors your role as a member of the Cancer Institute family. About a month after your therapy ends, you will meet with your radiation oncologist to discuss your progress and any pain, symptoms or challenges you may be experiencing.

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