Who is the Ideal Patient for Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy is most beneficial for patients with solid tumors near critical organs or structures that have not spread to other areas of the body. However, if the tumor has spread (metastasized), proton therapy may still be an option. Proton therapy may also benefit patients who cannot tolerate any more X-ray radiation.

Physicians have focused on using proton therapy primarily for tumors near critical organs, such as the heart, lungs, brain, GI tract, or structures, such as the spine. The types of tumors treated using proton therapy will continue to expand as research continues and doctors develop treatment plans for more types of tumors.

Proton therapy is not appropriate for all types of cancers or all patients. Only a healthcare provider can determine the best approach for each unique condition.

Can children receive proton therapy?

Since their bodies are still growing, children are more sensitive to healthy tissue damage caused by X-rays making proton therapy particularly beneficial to children. Clinical studies suggest that proton therapy reduces the risk of growth and developmental problems in children, as well as secondary tumors later in their lives.

Proton benefits
Benefits of Proton Therapy Treatment To learn more about other tumor types, visit our Video Library.

Finding Out if Proton Therapy Is Right for You

Your specific diagnosis and other factors will help determine if you could benefit from proton therapy. When you call the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center, the intake nurse will ask you several questions regarding your medical history. Our team will assist you in collecting the following documents and information before presenting your case to the physician review board for evaluation:

  • Your cancer diagnosis
  • Imaging or diagnostic records from your physician
  • Any prior cancer treatment you may have had
  • Pathology reports
  • Your current medications and any allergies
  • Operative reports
  • Lab reports
  • Insurance information
  • Availability for treatment
  • A physician's referral for radiation therapy

We want to make the process of getting treatment as easy as possible. If you have been diagnosed with cancer and are considering proton therapy as a treatment option, call 1.877.887.5807 to request a consultation or have your questions about proton therapy answered by a proton therapy intake nurse. A physician review board will evaluate your case and determine if you can benefit from proton therapy.

Medical Consultation Process

A physician review board will evaluate your diagnosis in detail to determine if you may benefit from proton therapy. Once your diagnosis has been reviewed, you will be contacted to discuss the next steps. If it is determined that your diagnosis is not appropriate for proton therapy, other treatment options may be recommended.

Patient and physician reviewing insurance coverage

Securing Medical Coverage

Throughout the intake and medical review process, a financial counselor will contact your insurance carrier to determine your plan's coverage. Most private insurance plans, Medicare, and in many cases, Medicaid, cover proton therapy. If your insurance doesn't cover all of your expenses, your counselor can help you explore alternative financing options.