MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center

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With proton therapy, you can fight prostate cancer without compromising your quality of life. Proton therapy is an effective treatment for prostate cancer and has fewer side effects than traditional radiation.

Advantages of proton therapy for prostate cancer treatment:

  • Less harm to healthy tissues and vital organs, such as the bladder and rectum
  • Less risk of incontinence or erectile dysfunction
  • Actual treatment is non-invasive and painless
  • Little to no downtime so you can work, exercise and remain sexually active during and after treatment
  • Innovative technology that targets the specific size, shape and location of your tumor
  • Lower risk of secondary cancers

What we treat

When the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center opened in 2006, the first patient treated with proton therapy had prostate cancer. Today, we have treated thousands of men with prostate cancer with the precise form of radiation called proton therapy.

Many choose proton therapy for its precision to target the tumor while sparing healthy tissue such as the bladder and rectum. Also, prostate cancer patients who receive proton therapy treatment have fewer side effects than with traditional radiation. This includes less risk of incontinence or erectile dysfunction, lower risk of secondary cancers and improved quality of life.

Our multidisciplinary team will help create an individualized treatment plan to ensure you receive the best possible outcome. Depending on how advanced the cancer is, the team will determine the best treatment option including surveillance or radiation therapy in combination with hormone therapy.

How it works

Proton Therapy Center

Cancer specialists at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center use proton therapy to precisely target even the most difficult to treat and reach tumors.

Using innovative technology, proton therapy can deliver a higher dose of radiation with pinpoint accuracy to the specific shape, size and location of your tumor. Since the radiation is more controlled, cancer cells are destroyed and the healthy tissues beyond the tumor are left unharmed.

New Hydrogel Treatment Option

Prostate cancer patients at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center now have the option to use a hydrogel instead of the endorectal balloon during treatment. One of the advantages of the hydrogel spacer is that it stays in place throughout the duration of the treatment, whereas the balloon has to be placed before each treatment. The hydrogel protects the prostate during treatment by acting as a spacer by pushing away the rectum from the prostate. This enables physicians the ability to maximize radiation to the prostate while reducing radiation exposure and potential damage to the rectum. It can also help to reduce the total number of treatment sessions.

What to expect

When coming to the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, you can expect the best cancer treatment and care possible from world-renowned cancer experts and specialists.

Treatment is delivered in a comfortable outpatient setting. Though it varies, cancer treatments typically take only 15 to 20 minutes each day and are delivered 5 days a week for approximately 8 weeks.

Most patients are able to continue to work, exercise and remain sexually active during treatment. So you can get treatment in the morning and play golf in the afternoon.

There is little to no recovery time after treatment, though patients may feel some temporary discomfort on the affected area following treatment.

Patient stories

Colt Wilson

Meet Tony Callagin

Every year at his annual checkup, Tony’s PSA (prostate-specific antigen) levels were increasing. Once he reached a level of 12 his doctor requested additional tests. His urologist’s diagnosis: prostate cancer. Considering himself a healthy and active person, Tony had trouble accepting it.

Tony’s urologist recommended surgery to remove the cancer.

“It seemed barbaric to have surgery,” Tony said. “I knew there had to be other options.”

In the course of researching those options, Tony went to The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. There, they recommended proton therapy because it could deliver a high dose of radiation to the tumor while minimizing exposure to the rest of his body. After completing 40 treatments over the course of eight weeks, Tony beat his prostate cancer.

For Tony, being able to maintain his quality of life was essential. Throughout his proton therapy treatment, he was able to keep working as a network engineer and stay active by swimming daily. Additionally, he continues to serve as the musical director at his church.

While a patient at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, Tony joined a support group called ProtonPals and enjoyed weekly dinners with fellow patients. He’s thankful for the support of the group and for the lifelong friends he made there.

Read real stories from MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center patients.

Clinical trials

The MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center uses clinical trials to find better ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, including all forms of head and neck cancer, like tongue cancer, mouth or oral cancer, throat cancer, thyroid cancer, eye cancer and others.

Learn about the clinical trials offered by our proton therapy center or browse our list of clinical trials.

Scientific evidence

If you would like to read more about the effectiveness of proton therapy, please visit the sites below. You will find information on the effectiveness of conventional radiation versus proton treatments, including side effects and outcomes.

Benchmark IMRT Data
  1. Al-Mamgani A, van Putten WL, Heemsbergen WD, van Leenders GJ, Slot A, Dielwart MF, et al.Update of Dutch multicenter dose-escalation trial of radiotherapy for localized prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008;72:980-8.
  2. Arcangeli S, Strigari L, Gomellini S, Saracino B, Petrongari MG, Pinnaro P, et al. Updated results and patterns of failure in a randomized hypofractionation trial for high-risk prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2012;84:1172-8.
  3. Arcangeli G, Fowler J, Gomellini S, Arcangeli S, Saracino B, Petrongari MG, et al. Acute and Late Toxicity in a Randomized Trial of Conventional Versus Hypofractionated Three-Dimensional Conformal Radiotherapy for Prostate Cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol. 2011;79:1013-21.
  4. Beckendorf V, Guerif S, Le Prise E, Cosset JM, Bougnoux A, Chauvet B, et al. 70 Gy versus 80 Gy in localized prostate cancer: 5-year results of GETUG 06 randomized trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011;80:1056-63.
  5. Dearnaley DP, Sydes MR, Graham JD, Aird EG, Bottomley D, Cowan RA, et al. Escalated-dose versus standard-dose conformal radiotherapy in prostate cancer: first results from the MRC RT01 randomised controlled trial. Lancet Oncol. 2007;8:475-87.
  6. Hoffman K, Voong K, Pugh T, et al. Risk of late toxicity in men receiving dose-escalated hypofractionated intensity modulated prostate radiation therapy: Results from a Randomized Trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys;2014:1074-84.
  7. Kuban DA, Tucker SL, Dong L, Starkschall G, Huang EH, Cheung MR, et al. Long-term results of the M. D. Anderson randomized dose-escalation trial for prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2008;70:67-74.
  8. Michalski JM, Yan Y, Watkins-Bruner D, Bosch WR, Winter K, Galvin JM, et al. Preliminary toxicity analysis of 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy versus intensity modulated radiation therapy on the high-dose arm of the Radiation Therapy Oncology Group 0126 prostate cancer trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2013;87:932-8.
  9. Michalski J, Moughan J, Purdy J, Bosch W, Bahary J-P, Lau HY, et al. A randomized trial of 79.2Gy versus 70.2Gy radiation therapy (RT) for localized prostate cancer [abstract]. J Clin Oncol 33, 2015 (suppl 7, abstr 4).
  10. Pollack A, Walker G, Horwitz EM, Price R, Feigenberg S, Konski AA, et al. Randomized trial of hypofractionated external-beam radiotherapy for prostate cancer. J Clin Oncol. 2013;31:3860-8.
  11. Pollack A, Zagars GK, Starkschall G, et al. Prostate cancer radiation dose response: results of the M. D. Anderson phase III randomized trial. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 2002;53(5):1097-1105.
  12. Pollack A, Walker G, Buyyounouski MK, et al. Five Year Results of a Randomized External Beam Radiotherapy Hypofractionation Trial for Prostate Cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics. 2011;81(2):S1.
  13. Yu J, Cramer L, Herrin J, et al. Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy Versus Intensity-Modulated Radiation Therapy for Prostate Cancer: Comparison of Toxicity. J Clin Oncol;2014:1195-201.
  14. Zietman AL, DeSilvio ML, Slater JD, et al. Comparison of conventional-dose vs high-dose conformal radiation therapy in clinically localized adenocarcinoma of the prostate: a randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 2005;294(10):1233-1239.
Proton Data
  1. Choi S, Amin M, Palmer M, et al. Comparison of Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) to Passively Scattered Proton Therapy (PSPT) in the Treatment of Prostate Cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics. 2011;81:S154-S155.
  2. Hoppe B, Michalski J, Mendenhall N, et al. Comparative Effectiveness Study of Patient-reported Outcomes after Proton Therapy or Intensity-modulated radiotherapy for Prostate Cancer. Cancer. 2014;20:1076-82.
  3. Hoppe BS, Michalski JM, Mendenhall NP, Morris CG, Henderson RH, Nichols RC, et al. Comparative effectiveness study of patient-reported outcomes after proton therapy or intensity-modulated radiotherapy for prostate cancer. Cancer. 2014;120:1076-82.
  4. Kim Y, Cho K, Pyo H, et al. A Phase II Study of Hypofractionated Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer. Acta Oncol. 2013;52:477-85.
  5. Kole T, Nichols R, Lei S, et al. A Dosimetric Comparison of Ultra-hypofractionated Passively Scattered Proton Radiotherapy and Stereotactic Body Radiotherapy (SBRT) in the Definitive Treatment of Localized Prostate Cancer. Acta Oncol; 2014:1-7 (Epub).
  6. Mendenhall NP, Hoppe BS, Nichols RC, Mendenhall WM, Morris CG, Li Z, et al. Five-year outcomes from 3 prospective trials of image-guided proton therapy for prostate cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2014;88:596-602.
  7. Mendenhall NP, Li Z, Hoppe BS, et al. Early Outcomes from Three Prospective Trials of Image-guided Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2010. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21093164. Accessed September 6, 2011.
  8. Nihei K, Ogino T, Onozawa M, Murayama S, Fuji H, Murakami M, et al. Multi-institutional phase II study of proton beam therapy for organ-confined prostate cancer focusing on the incidence of late rectal toxicities. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2011;81:390-6
  9. Nihei K, Ogino T, Onozawa M, et al. Multi-Institutional Phase II Study of Proton Beam Therapy for Organ-Confined Prostate Cancer Focusing on the Incidence of Late Rectal Toxicities. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 2010. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20832180. Accessed July 19, 2011.
  10. Pugh TJ, Munsell M, Choi S, et al. Quality of Life and Toxicity from Passively Scattered and Spot-scanning Proton Beam Therapy for Localized Prostate Cancer. International Journal of Radiation Oncology*Biology*Physics. 2013;87:946-53.
  11. Pugh TJ, Amos R, John-Baptiste S, et al. Multifield optimization intensity-modulated proton therapy (MFO-IMPT) for prostate cancer: Robustness Analysis through Simulation of Rotational and Translational Alignment Errors. Med Dosimetry. 2013;38:344-50.
  12. Pugh TJ, Lee A. Proton Beam Therapy for the Treatment of Prostate Cancer. Cancer J. 2014:415-20.
  13. Shipley WU, Tepper JE, Prout GR Jr, et al. Proton radiation as boost therapy for localized prostatic carcinoma. JAMA. 1979;241(18):1912-1915.
  14. Shipley WU, Verhey LJ, Munzenrider JE, et al. Advanced prostate cancer: the results of a randomized comparative trial of high dose irradiation boosting with conformal protons compared with conventional dose irradiation using photons alone. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 1995;32(1):3-1
  15. Slater JD, Rossi CJ, Jr., Yonemoto LT, Bush DA, Jabola BR, Levy RP, et al. Proton therapy for prostate cancer: the initial Loma Linda University experience. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2004;59:348-52.
  16. Yonemoto LT, Slater JD, Rossi CJ Jr, et al. Combined proton and photon conformal radiation therapy for locally advanced carcinoma of the prostate: preliminary results of a phase I/II study. Int. J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 1997;37(1):21-29.
  17. Zietman AL, Bae K, Slater JD, et al. Randomized trial comparing conventional-dose with high-dose conformal radiation therapy in early-stage adenocarcinoma of the prostate: long-term results from proton radiation oncology group/american college of radiology 95-09. J. Clin. Oncol. 2010;28(7):1106-1111.
  18. Zietman AL, Bae K, Slater JD, Shipley WU, Efstathiou JA, Coen JJ, et al. Randomized trial comparing conventional-dose with high-dose conformal radiation therapy in early-stage adenocarcinoma of the prostate: long-term results from proton radiation oncology group/american college of radiology 95-09.
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