Explore Proton Therapy

Two Treatment Centers, One Expert Team

Since the opening of the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center in 2001, we have delivered over 10,000 customized proton treatment plans. In 2020, we expanded clinical operations on our main campus location with the opening of a second center, The Gordon-Browne Proton Therapy Center. Both state-of-the-art treatment centers offer the latest technology for patients and are run by one talented, multidisciplinary team.

Pioneers of Proton Therapy

Working with the Harvard Cyclotron Laboratory (HCL), Mass General physicians became the first in the world to discover how to harness the extraordinary physical characteristics of high energy protons for medical care. By using protons rather than conventional x-rays (photons), physicians could increasingly concentrate radiation energy in tumors and intended targets, reducing radiation dose and damage to nearby healthy tissue.

How Proton Therapy Works

Proton beam therapy

Proton therapy uses a special machine called a cyclotron or synchrotron to accelerate protons. Protons are extracted from the particle accelerator and directed with magnetic fields to the tumor. The depth of penetration of the protons is related to their energy and can be precisely controlled to match the location of the tumor.

Protons deliver most of their energy to a very narrow volume within the body. This unique dose delivery property of protons is known as the Bragg Peak. We can manipulate the Bragg Peak region to deliver the desired radiation dose to the tumor itself without any exit dose beyond the tumor. Conventional external beam radiation therapy uses photons, also referred to as x-rays, that enter and exit through the body. The special properties of protons generally reduce the radiation dose to the normal tissues surrounding the treatment site.

Conditions We Treat with Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is used to treat both benign and malignant tumors. Common conditions we treat with proton therapy include:

  • Brain tumors
  • Breast cancer
  • Pediatric cancers
  • Eye melanoma
  • Gastrointestinal cancers
  • Head and neck cancers
  • Liver cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Prostate cancer
  • Sarcomas, including paraspinal and base of skull
  • Tumors affecting the spine

Helpful Resources

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Proton Therapy FAQs

Proton Therapy FAQs

View the answers to frequently asked questions about proton therapy.

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Supportive Care

Supportive Care

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Patient Gateway

Patient Gateway

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International Patient Center

International Patient Center

A full-service office that helps patients and their families navigate care and logistics.

Proton Therapy Videos