Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer

When you’ve been diagnosed with prostate cancer, your first instinct may be to get the cancer out as quickly as possible. However, many treatments for prostate cancer can cause long-term side effects and proton therapy may be able to reduce those risks. When patients come for a consultation, our team discusses all treatments for prostate cancer, including surgery, other forms of radiation therapy, hormonal therapy and active surveillance.

Prostate cancer forms in the prostate, the muscular, walnut-sized gland that's located below the bladder and in front of the rectum. The precision of proton therapy can target the tumor and reduce damage to the surrounding tissue, which in turn may reduce side effects such as urinary complications and impotence.

Northwestern Medicine Proton Center is one of the few proton therapy centers throughout the Midwest and the first one in Illinois. Our team is dedicated to explaining all of your treatment options for prostate cancer and facilitating a conversation with you and your physician or oncologist to determine the best treatment option for you.

To learn if you can benefit from proton therapy, call 1.877.887.5807 or fill out our online form.

Request Appointment

 Proton Center patient Sidney standing on a green golf course holding a golf club on a sunny day.
Hear what these two patients have to say about Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer To learn more about other tumor types, visit our Video Library.

Diagnosis and Staging

After a prostate cancer diagnosis, the next steps are to determine the cancer stage and decide on a treatment option. Prostate cancer diagnoses are categorized into low, intermediate, and high-risk. Your doctor will determine the category based on several tests, including a biopsy.

Stage I (Low-risk)

  • Tumor is confined to one side of the prostate
  • PSA score is less than 10
  • Gleason score is 6 or less

Stage IIA (Intermediate-risk)

  • Tumor fills half of the prostate on examination
  • OR PSA score is between 10-20
  • OR Gleason score is 7

Stage IIB (High-risk)

  • Tumor is on both sides of prostate
  • OR PSA score is over 20
  • OR Gleason score is between 8-10

Stage III

  • Tumor extends out of the prostate

Stage IV

  • Lymph nodes are impacted by tumor

After your doctor has determined the stage of your prostate cancer, he or she will then help you decide on an appropriate form of treatment.

A male Proton physician in a discussion with a young African American male patient while looking at an iPad. 

The Advantages of Proton Therapy for Prostate Cancer

When treating cancer with radiation, it’s important to balance the treatment of the tumor and the preservation of healthy tissue. Proton therapy allows this delicate balance to be achieved through precise targeting that conforms to the shape of the tumor, making it an excellent treatment for prostate cancer.1,3,4 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

A scan of a male showing prostate location 

What to Expect With Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is considered safe, non-invasive and painless. Depending on the patient's diagnosis, treatments are usually given five days a week for up to nine 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.

Patient Stories

Read what our patients have to say about their proton therapy treatment and how proton therapy and our staff impacted their lives.

Read more

Contact Us

To discover if you or a loved one could benefit from proton therapy, please call us at 877.887.5807 (TTY 711).

Request Appointment