Responding to Your Diagnosis

When you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your first instinct may be to get the cancer out as quickly as possible. However, you’ll want to learn about your treatment options and study the pros and cons of each one before making any decisions. Many treatments for prostate cancer often cause long-term side effects, including urinary complications and impotence. Proton therapy may be able to reduce those risks.

Request more information or call 877.887.5807 to learn if you can benefit from proton therapy.

Chicago Proton Prostate
Cadence Health Cancer Video
Watch a Video: Proton Therapy for Prostate Tumors To learn more about other tumor types, visit our Video Library.

Proton Therapy May Reduce Risks

The greater precision of proton therapy significantly reduces the dose of radiation delivered to nearby organs.1,2 In one study, proton therapy delivered 35% less radiation to the bladder and 59% less radiation to the rectum compared with X-ray/intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT).1 Delivering less radiation to nearby organs reduces the likelihood of long-term side effects.1,3

The images to the left show the amount and location of radiation that the body receives during treatment with proton therapy and X-rays/IMRT.

Proton therapy prostate

Advantages of Proton Therapy

When treating cancer with radiation, it’s important to balance the radiation to the tumor without harming healthy tissue. Proton therapy allows this delicate balance to be achieved, making it an excellent option for treating prostate cancer.1,3,4 The dose of radiation that a patient can receive with standard X-ray radiation is limited because of the risk of damage to the bladder and rectum, which are in close proximity to the prostate. With protons, a higher dose can be delivered to the tumor site, which can result in better tumor control, while largely sparing the bladder and rectum from radiation damage.1,3,4

Protons significantly reduce excess radiation to non-target areas like the rectum.1 Studies show that less radiation to the rectum reduces the likelihood of gastrointestinal side effects.3

Chicago Proton Center

Proton Therapy is Highly Effective

Recently, a number of researchers have studied the effectiveness of using higher doses of radiation for tumors. The three trials shown in the charts to the left found that patients who were treated with a higher dose of radiation were more likely to have PSA levels within a desirable range over a 5-year period than those treated with a lower dose. The trial that used proton therapy to increase the dose had the best control rate and the lowest rate of severe side effects.5-7

Proton therapy prostate

What to Expect With Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is condiered safe, non-invasive and painless. Depending on the patient's diagnosis, treatments are usually given five days a week for up to eight weeks. The time spent actually delivering the protons to the tumor is about one minute, but a prostate cancer treatment session can range from 15 to 30 minutes due to time spent positioning the patient for this precise treatment.

Patients continue with normal activities before and after treatment. Some patients choose to work, others go on a “radiation vacation” and spend their days doing recreational activities before or after treatment.

Learn more about what to expect when getting treated.

Contact Us

To discover if you or a loved one could benefit from proton therapy, please call us at 877.887.5807 (TTY for hearing impaired, call 630.933.4833) or request more information.

Prostate Cancer Treatment Options

Proton therapy

A type of external beam radiation therapy that uses proton radiation to kill cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. Proton therapy is a non-invasive treatment that is as effective as X-ray radiation in treating prostate cancer.1,8 The benefit of this type of radiation over standard X-rays is the precision in targeting the tumor. Because of the precision, proton therapy can significantly reduce the dose of radiation to the rectum and bladder.1 As a result, there is a reduced risk of short- and long-term side effects.1,3

Standard X-ray radiation

This includes IMRT, 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3-D CRT), CyberKnife®, RapidArc™ radiation, IGRT and TomoTherapy®. These common forms of external beam radiation therapy use X-ray radiation to kill cancer cells by preventing them from dividing and growing. Possible side effects include damage to the rectum and bladder9 and the possibility of impotence.


The placement of radioactive seeds in the prostate. The main benefit of this invasive form of radiation therapy is that patients can leave the hospital immediately after the radioactive seeds are implanted. The major disadvantage with brachytherapy is that seeds can move after implantation, resulting in uneven treatment of the cancer cells. Patients become radioactive for a period of months following treatment. Side effects may last as long as the seeds are active (usually a few months), and they may continue and become chronic. In a study, many patients noted a significant decrease in health-related quality of life at one and three months post-treatment.9 Urinary issues are the most common side effect of seed implantations.9


A radical prostatectomy is an operation to remove the prostate gland and tissues surrounding it. Because so many nerves surround the prostate, damage to the nerves is a significant risk for all patients undergoing surgery. Patients electing to have surgery will want to find a surgeon who specializes in this procedure and has many years of experience. Most men stay in the hospital two to three days after the procedure. A urinary catheter is inserted during surgery, and some men may need to wear it home for a few days or weeks. Potential short- and long-term side effects include pain around the incision, urinary incontinence and sexual dysfunction.

“Watchful Waiting”/Active Surveillence

For this choice, patients are regularly tested and not given therapy unless their cancer progresses. Talk to your doctor about proton therapy, or call 877.887.5807 to learn if you’re a candidate.