Patients & family

Changing the way to treat cancer

Because your quality of life during and after treatment matters

Every day at IBA, we work hard with your clinical partners to push back the boundaries of cancer treatment. But we also know how difficult it is for patients to make the right decisions about their treatment when facing such hard times...

This is why we provide you information to better understand what proton therapy is all about. You can then evaluate with your physician if it is an appropriate option for your condition.

Please be aware that IBA is not a team of physicians. We cannot advise on any specific clinical conditions. However, we compiled some useful information and links to specialized institutions. We hope that this information proves helpful, and that you will find all the assistance you may need to select the most appropriate cancer treatment for you. 

How can proton therapy be beneficial for me?

  • Minimizes radiation exposure of healthy tissues
  • Potential to reduce the risk of secondary cancers
  • Potential to lower the risk of side effects
  • May improve the quality of life during and after treatment
  • A retreatment option for recurrent disease
  • For challenging conditions where conventional radiotherapy has reached its limits

Proton therapy, considered to be the most advanced radiation treatment for many forms of cancer

Proton therapy is used today to treat many cancers and is particularly appropriate in situations where treatment options are limited or present unacceptable risks to you, as a patient.

Pediatric

Proton therapy for pediatric cancers

Treating cancer with a lower risk of side effects is of paramount importance, especially in children. Tumorous cells are more sensitive to radiation because they multiply quickly, and doctors use this property to treat cancer. However, as children grow, their whole body is made of fast-developing tissue, making them more susceptible to the toxicity of radiation therapy. As protons can be precisely controlled, they deliver less radiation to healthy tissue and help prevent serious complications as well as short- and long-term side effects. When treating solid tumors in children, especially near delicate organs such as the brain, spinal cord, eyes, heart, etc., proton therapy thus holds unique promise.

Brain

Proton therapy for brain cancers

In the treatment of brain cancer, a combination of surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy is often required. When radiation is indicated, it is crucial to precisely target the dose to the tumor due to the proximity to vitally important healthy brain tissue, the eyes and the optic nerves. Proton therapy is thus an option of choice compared to conventional X-ray therapy, because it delivers a smaller dose to healthy tissue, resulting in less adverse effects such as neurological dysfunction and secondary tumors.

Skull base & spine

Proton therapy for skull base and spine cancers

Base-of-skull tumors, which include chordoma and chondrosarcoma, are particularly difficult to treat due to their closeness to critical structures such as the brainstem, brain, cranial nerves and optic nerves. Proton therapy is particularly appropriate for these tumors as it is able to minimize the radiation dose to healthy tissue while precisely delivering a high dose to the tumor, resulting in better results and less side effects. Likewise, when treating tumors near the spine, proton therapy reduces the radiation exposure to the lungs, limiting breathing difficulties and other complications that commonly result from conventional X-ray therapy.

Head & neck

Proton therapy for head and neck cancers

More than 65,000 Americans are diagnosed with head and neck cancer each year. Due to the proximity to delicate organs such as the spinal cord, eyes, optic nerves, ears, salivary glands, jawbone, etc., proton therapy is particularly appropriate for treating these tumors, as protons can be controlled with greater precision than X-rays. This means that more energy goes into destroying the tumor and less radiation is delivered to surrounding healthy tissue, resulting in a reduced risk of side effects such as blindness, bone injury, hearing deterioration, dry mouth and secondary malignancies.

Eye

Proton therapy for eye cancers

Ocular cancer is rare but can be difficult to treat because of its proximity to vital organs and vulnerable tissue. Since protons are more easily controlled than conventional X-rays, they can deliver powerful radiation doses to the tumor site without causing unnecessary damage to surrounding tissue in the eye and head, reducing the risk of side effects. Ocular melanoma is the most common type of eye tumors. Proton therapy allows to preserve the eye and the patient’s vision by limiting damage to the cornea, lens, retina, fovea, or optic nerve. Similarly, it is also a treatment of choice for ocular tumors near the optic nerve or macula.

Lung

Proton therapy for lung cancers

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in men worldwide. As surgery and chemotherapy usually cannot get rid of 100% of cancerous cells, radiation is a critical component of treatment. Compared to conventional X-rays, the unique properties of protons offer a similar efficacy at killing cancer cells while reducing the radiation dose to the heart, healthy lung, esophagus and bone marrow. Proton therapy thus allows to reduce the side effects of treatment, including pneumonitis, esophagitis and fatigue, and to deliver more intensive chemotherapy if need be.

Breast

Proton therapy for breast cancers

About one in eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Even if conventional X-ray therapy has helped save the life of many women for decades, this type of radiation potentially exposes the heart, lungs, and other organs to toxic doses, resulting in an increased risk of side effects such as coronary artery disease, lung scarring, and secondary malignancies. With its unique attributes, proton therapy allows to reduce excess radiation to healthy tissue and organs. This is especially important in left-sided breast cancer, which is located closer to the heart, with higher risk of radiation-induced cardiovascular diseases.

Gastro-intestinal

Proton therapy for gastro-intestinal cancers

Treatment for gastrointestinal tumors often requires a combination of radiation therapy, chemotherapy and surgery, which can be difficult for patients to tolerate due to the proximity of many important abdominal organs. In some cases, conventional X-ray therapy is not even an option because of the high risk of damaging surrounding healthy tissue. For these patients, proton therapy can be an effective option, as protons can be controlled with greater precision to deposit more energy directly to the tumor while significantly reducing the radiation dose to healthy tissues, resulting in fewer side effects.

Prostate

Proton therapy for prostate cancers

Prostate cancer is the most frequent cancer in men worldwide, but traditional treatment involving surgery or radiation carries the risk of serious toxicity. Due to the proximity of critical structures such as important nerves, the rectum and the bladder, radiation exposure from conventional X-ray therapy can cause erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence, rectal injury and secondary cancers. Proton therapy, on the other hand, can decrease the risk of damage to surrounding organs caused by excess radiation: as protons are precisely targeted to the tumor, they offer excellent control of tumors, lower risk of damaging healthy tissue and better quality of life.

Gynecological

Proton therapy for gynecological cancers

Gynecological cancer such as cervical, endometrial, uterine, vaginal and vulvar cancer can be good indications for proton therapy. Indeed, as it allows for higher doses of radiation to be delivered to the tumor without damaging surrounding healthy tissue and organs, proton therapy has the potential to lead to fewer short- and long-term side effects, especially to the small bowel, large bowel, bladder, kidneys and pelvic bone marrow, and to reduce the impact on urinary and bowel function compared to conventional X-ray therapy. Protons may also help spare hormone function in younger women by preserving the ovaries.

Reirradiation

Proton therapy for reirradiation

When any part of the body is radiated a second time, the risk of short- and long-term side effects associated to radiation toxicity increases. Contrary to conventional X-ray therapy, protons have the ability to aim a higher dose of radiation directly inside the tumor and to spare surrounding healthy tissue, which means they can be used for reirradiation of almost any disease site. As patients with disease recurrence have previously received radiation from prior cancer, they are good candidates for the precision targeting of proton therapy, which limits normal tissue exposure and potentially leads to better outcomes.

Other

Proton therapy for other cancers

Proton therapy represents a treatment of choice in many other cancerous indications, such as bone cancer, skin cancer, pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, lymphoma, etc. In fact, any patient with a tumor located near sensitive tissue or organs can benefit from this type of treatment, as protons have the ability to precisely target the radiation dose to the tumor and spare healthy surrounding tissue. For example, lymphoma can occur in various parts of the body, including near important organs such as the lungs, heart, esophagus, breasts, and spinal cord. For these patients, proton therapy is expected to reduce the risk of radiation-induced breast cancer, lung cancer, stomach cancer and heart problems.

Easily find the nearest proton therapy center equipped with IBA

There are more than 20 active proton therapy centers all around the world.

Use the map below to learn more about those centers, and their treatment specificities.

Click on the spots to find your nearest ready IBA proton therapy center
Click on a region to discover all its IBA proton therapy centers installed base

Your path to recovery starts now: what should you do next?

Would you like to further investigate if proton therapy is indicated for your condition? Then learn more about the next steps to start a proper proton therapy treatment.
Talk with your oncologist
Contact a proton therapy center
Get more information
Talk with your oncologist

The first thing to do is to talk to your treating physician about proton therapy. Oncology covers such a broad spectrum of specialties and treatments that physicians cannot have a thorough knowledge of each sub-specialty. We compiled some interesting scientific publications that could be useful to your oncologist to have a better overview of the clinical advantages of proton therapy. You can download the file on our website. Different white papers are available for several indications and might be of good help.

Generally, proton therapy is highly beneficial for the following indications:

You may also find useful to share the following sources of information with your doctor:

Please also note that healthcare is governed by a local legal framework that influences the prescription of treatment modalities or the reimbursement by the health insurances. Patients within EU countries can take advantage of S2 form and cross border treatment.

Contact your nearest proton therapy center

The next recommended step is to contact directly one of the centers offering proton therapy. They will be best able to inform you and to assess whether proton therapy is appropriate in your situation. You will need to provide them with your medical file in order for them to analyse your condition. Ideally, you should have your latest medical reports ready in electronic version when contacting them. 

You will need particularly:

  • Your latest medical report
  • CT or MRI scans

Find all IBA treating centers : selecting your indication or your geographical position

This map only covers the proton therapy centers operating in partnership with IBA and currently in operation. Other proton therapy centers exist and others are being built. They are expected to be fully operational in the near future. 

For a comprehensive list of proton therapy centers, visit the website Proton Therapy Today

Or

The Particle Therapy Co-Operative Group. 

Get more comprehensive info about your treatment

Testimonials

Many patients appreciate hearing experiences from formerly treated patients with similar conditions. Most of the proton therapy centers listed in this document share patient testimonials through their individual website. In addition, you will find below a list of associations that can provide you with further information or facilitate your access to proton therapy.

Associations

Below is a short list of associations that can provide you either further information or facilitate your access to proton therapy.