Proton Therapy

Proton beam therapy is a type of external-beam radiation therapy (EBRT) treatment that uses protons instead of X-rays to deliver radiation directly to cancer cells. Proton therapy has been shown to be effective in treating certain types of cancerous tumors and some non-cancerous tumors and malformations, such as tangled blood vessels.


Tumors commonly treated with proton therapy include:

  • Base of skull
  • Brain
  • Breast
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Head and neck
  • Lung
  • Melanoma of the eye
  • Pediatric
  • Prostate
  • Spinal


Northwestern Medicine Proton Center

The Northwestern Medicine Proton Center is the first facility of its kind in Illinois since 2010. Proton therapy may be a powerful addition to your cancer-fighting protocol. This advanced form of radiation treatment is able to precisely target tumors and cause less damage to the surrounding healthy tissue. This is especially important if you have cancer near critical organs or structures, if you’ve previously received radiation therapy or when treating pediatric cancers. For certain cancer types, you may experience fewer side effects with proton therapy and can maintain a better quality of life when compared to standard X-ray radiation.

Benefits of proton therapy include:

  • Fewer short–and long–term side effects
  • Effective results in adults and children
  • Reduced risk of damage to surrounding healthy tissues and organs due to precise targeting of cells
  • Reduced likelihood of secondary tumors caused by treatment
  • Can treat recurrent tumors, even in patients who have already received radiation
  • Improved quality of life during and after treatment

This approach has not been shown to be safer or more effective than other types of EBRT. Proton therapy is only available in a small number of centers around the country.

Locations & Contact Information