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Proton Therapy for Children

The Mass General Department of Radiation Oncology’s specialized team of pediatric radiation oncologists are some of the most experienced in treating rare and complex tumors in children and young adults.
Proton Therapy patient Emilio smiles on the Bulfinch lawn
Proton Therapy patient Emilio smiles on the Bulfinch lawn

Explore This Treatment Program

How Proton Therapy Works

Proton therapy uses a special machine, most commonly a cyclotron or synchrotron, that accelerates proton particles and delivers them directly to the target which may include both tumors and areas of concern for microscopic tumors. Unlike conventional external beam radiation therapy, which uses photons or x-rays that exit through the body, protons can be manipulated to stop at the tumor site, minimizing the dose to surrounding tissues.

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 with virtually no radiation dose beyond the tumor. Children’s bodies are more vulnerable to the effects of radiation, so proton therapy is particularly important for minimizing long-term effects on growth and development.

Conditions We Treat

We treat a variety of pediatric tumors with proton therapy including but not limited to:

  • Central Nervous System tumors (including medulloblastoma ependymoma, neuroblastoma, germinoma, and primitive neuroectodermal tumors)
  • Benign tumors (such as craniopharyngioma)
  • Chordomas and tumors of the base of skull
  • Hodgkin’s lymphoma and other lymphomas
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Sarcomas (including bone sarcoma, Ewing’s sarcoma, rhabdomyosarcoma, and osteosarcoma)

Multidisciplinary Care

We combine clinical expertise, compassionate care, and advanced radiation therapies to deliver the safest, most effective treatments for cancer and benign tumors. Our radiation oncologists work closely with specialized teams across Mass General to deliver world-class care that is tailored to the needs of our patients. Your care team may include pediatric specialists from:

Supportive Care Services

Six to eight weeks of daily radiation treatments can be particularly challenging for pediatric patients and their families. We offer a variety of education and support resources to help you through this stressful time.   

  • Our Oncology Resources Specialist can answer questions about local housing and transportation options. You can contact the Oncology Resources Specialist directly at 617-724-0295 or ask your provider to place a referral.  
  • You can contact our Clinical Social Worker at 617-643-7350 or our Child Life Specialist at 617-643-9233 if you or your child need help coping.
  • Our Joy Toys program was created to give children under treatment something to look forward to each week. Every Friday, patients and their siblings have an opportunity to select a special gift from a toy cabinet. For information about donating to Joy Toys click here 
  • Mass General Cancer Center’s Katherine Gallagher Integrative Therapies Program offers wellness services such as music and art therapy, free of charge 
  • The Maxwell V. Blum Cancer Resource Program offers a range of patient education and support resources around the Mass General Cancer Center. 
  • LearnWell can provide academic support to children undergoing radiation treatment. Families can contact LearnWell directly by submitting an online form or calling 877-732-9101. 

Meet the Team

Shannon MacDonald, MD with a patient in the Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center.

Due to our depth and breadth of expertise, our providers receive patient referrals from specialists nationwide.

Contact Us

Pediatric Radiation Oncology

Francis H. Burr Proton Therapy Center
30 Fruit Street
Boston, MA, 02114
Phone:  617-724-1836
Fax:  (617) 726-0976


Radiation Oncology

Radiation Oncology

Learn about the department of Radiation Oncology at Mass General.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to questions parents and guardians frequently have about their child's treatment.

Housing & Transportation

Housing & Transportation

Help for families that need to relocate to Boston during their child's treatment.

Directions & Maps

Directions & Maps

Find directions to your appointment, maps and more.

Insurance Guidelines

Insurance Guidelines

View the Department of Radiation Oncology's insurance guidelines.