Treatment at the MGH Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center uses energy from the protons of atoms to destroy cancer cells. The beam of proton radiation can be very precisely aimed at a tumor with little harm to the surrounding healthy tissues.

The Burr Proton Center

About proton radiation therapy for children: 

          1) Video: Introduction to Radiation Treatment for Children
An Introduction to Radiation Therapy for Children

          2) Video: Radiation Treatment for Children (part 2) 
An Introduction to Radiation Therapy for Children (Part 2)

          3) Video: A Patient Story
A Proton Patient's Story

 The MGH Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center has three broad proton treatment options. They are:

  • Proton Stereotactic Radiotherapy (PSRT)
    PSRT involves treating lesions throughout the body over an extended 1-8 week course (5-40 sessions). PSRT treatment sessions are usually limited to once per day and lasting 20-40 minutes each.
  • Proton Stereotactic Radiosurgery (PSRS)
    PSRS involves treating lesions, usually contained within the head with a high dose of radiation delivered in 1-2 sessions. PSRS treatment sessions are around one hour.
  • Proton Ocular Radiotherapy (PORT)
    PORT treats ocular lesions contained within the eye with the radiation delivered in 2-5 sessions. PORT treatment sessions are usually limited to once per day and lasting 10-20 minutes each.

Despite having three distinct proton treatment options the general pre-treatment process follows a similar course.

  • Prior to proton treatment the patient’s medical history, including imaging studies are reviewed to ensure that proton therapy is appropriate.
  • It may be necessary to obtain additional tests to update the medical record.
  • When a patient is accepted for proton therapy he/she will undergo a simulation process to enable proper planning prior to treatment. This process involves making an immobilization device to help the patient maintain a steady body position during the proton treatment. Using the custom immobilization device, treatment planning x-ray images are obtained to help delineate the lesion(s) or target(s) and map their position within the body.
  • When patients come for their proton treatments, images are taken using state-of-the-art x-ray or ultra-sound technology. These pre-treatment images are compared to the planning images to ensure high precision alignment.

Proton beam radiation therapy is useful in treating a variety of cancers including:

 Pediatric Brain Tumors - such as:

  • Astrocytomas        
  • Ependymomas      
  • Medulloblastomas         
  • Optic Gliomas 

 Pediatric Leukemias & Solid Tumors - such as:    

  • Germinomas
  • Primitive neuro-ectodermal tumors
  • Rhabdomyosarcomas 
  • Sarcomas    

Head & Neck Cancers

Brain and Cranial Base Tumors - such as:

  • acoustic neuromas 
  • arteriovenous malformations (AVMs)
  • ependymomas
  • gliomas
  • meningiomas
  • pituitary adenomas
  • low grade gliomas

Tumors of the eye and orbit - such as:

  • ocular melanomas
  • retinoblastomas


Prostate Cancer (early stage)

Spine Tumors - such as:

  • chordomas
  • chondrosarcomas

Thoracic Cancers

  • medically inoperable non-small cell lung cancer
  • locally advanced non-small cell lung cancer (on research protocol)

Gastrointestinal Cancers - such as:

  • liver tumors (unresectable)
  • pancreatic cancer (on research protocol)

We are expanding our proton capacity. Watch this video to learn more.

If you have questions regarding the Department of Radiation Oncology please send an email to:

Or call the Proton Inquiry Line: 617-724-1680

Massachusetts General Hospital

Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center
30 Fruit Street
Boston, MA 02114

Phone: 617-726-0923
Fax: 617-726-6498