Brain & Spine

Proton Therapy for Brain & Spine Cancer Treatment

Fight Brain & Spine Cancer with Laser-like Precision

California Protons’ intensity-modulated pencil beam scanning technology is a highly precise form of cancer radiation treatment that enables our doctors to selectively target brain and spine tumors with high-dose radiation within these intricate areas, while avoiding critical structures such as the brain, brainstem, pituitary gland and optic nerves. Proton beam therapy can be used to successfully treat brain cancer.

Compared with older passive-scattering proton therapy treatment, our pencil beam scanning technology precisely delivers radiation treatment for brain and spine cancer within 2 millimeters and with the utmost care. We can attack tumors layer by layer and minimize harmful exposure to surrounding healthy tissue and organs. This is important for brain and spine cancer patients because central nervous system (CNS) tumors are notoriously difficult to treat and are located near critical structures sensitive to low doses of radiation. Reducing the radiation to these healthy tissues around the tumor may lower your risk of damage to your brain functionality, nervous system, vision and hearing. The reduction of radiation-related toxicity also increases the likelihood that patients can complete treatment with fewer interruptions or delays.

Brain & Spine Cancer
Treatment Details

What We Treat

  • Glioma and hypothalamic tumor
  • Meningioma
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • Spinal cord tumors
  • Ependymoma
  • Pituitary tumors or pituitary adenoma
  • Skull-based tumors
  • Recurrent Cancer

What We Do

  • Target the tumor only
  • Protect your central nervous system, including your brain, brainstem, pituitary gland and nerves that affect your vision, hearing and motor skills
  • Maintain your quality of life during brain & spine cancer treatment
  • Reduce side effects of brain & spine cancer treatment, including nausea, vomiting and fatigue
  • Lower the risk of secondary cancer due to radiation

Studies examining proton therapy for CNS cancers show that proton therapy results in:

Survival rate for Intracranial meningiomas patients1
Decrease in the risk of radiation-associated secondary tumors in benign meningioma patients2

Benefits of Proton Therapy for Brain & Spine Cancer

  • Our pencil beam scanning technology precisely controls protons to place the Bragg peak—the point at which they deposit their maximum energy—directly in the spine or brain tumor. This allows us to treat more complex tumor shapes and vary the dose within the tumor.
  • Advanced proton therapy allows doctors to more selectively deliver high-dose radiation to tumor cells in the brain and spine, and reduce the dose to surrounding healthy tissues and critical organs. In some cases, this has been shown to deliver higher cure rates than X-ray radiation treatment even in some of the most challenging situations.
  • Reduced radiation to healthy tissues around tumors that routinely require high doses of radiation can minimize damage to critical areas and structures of the brain, brainstem, pituitary gland and nerves that affect your vision, hearing and motor skills. This is extremely important as damage to these sensitive structures can impair the quality of your life.
  • Our pencil beam scanning technology also reduces radiation to bone marrow, which can reduce treatment-related fatigue.
  • Unlike with older technology, the brain or spine cancer treatment plan can be loaded into the computer and completed within a matter of minutes. Treatments are also noninvasive and convenient so patients can get back to their daily activities quicker.

Proton Therapy
Right for You?


Depending on the stage and type of brain and spine cancer, some combination of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation may be needed for some brain and spine tumors. Treatment options are also affected by age, overall health and personal preferences.

Treatment for Recurrent
Brain & Spine Cancer

Proton therapy is often the best way to treat recurrent tumors in areas that have previously been treated with radiation therapy.

Treating previously irradiated areas can be challenging. The healthy tissues around the recurrent tumor do not fully “forget” the previous radiation dose, and any added dose continues to increase the risk of normal tissue injury. Proton beam therapy may enable doctors to better concentrate the dose to the target and limit it elsewhere, allowing re-treatment with radiation in select patients.

Brain & Spine Cancer Treatment
Outcomes & Long-Term Effects

Proton therapy treatment of brain tumors or spinal cancer at California Protons Cancer Therapy Center in San Diego may offer similar outcomes to standard X-ray radiation, while reducing long-term and potentially life-threatening side effects such as memory loss, personality changes, paralysis, and vision and hearing loss due to radiation damage to the brain, spine and critical vision and hearing structures. It also provides the potential to decrease the chance of developing secondary cancers later in life due to the reduced radiation exposure to your surrounding healthy tissues and organs.

However, all cancer treatments have advantages and disadvantages. Be sure to discuss all of the potential risks, as well as treatment options, with your oncologist.

About Proton Therapy

Coverage Options