Proton Therapy for Lung Cancer

Fight Lung Cancer with Laser-like Precision

California Protons’ intensity-modulated pencil beam scanning technology is a highly precise form of lung cancer radiation treatment that enables our doctors to selectively target lung tumors with high-dose radiation that can result in a greater chance of remission over X-ray radiation.

Compared with older passive-scattering proton therapy treatment, our pencil beam scanning technology precisely delivers proton beam radiation treatment for lung 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 lung cancer patients because the lungs are located near several of the most sensitive and critical organs and tissues, including the heart, esophagus and spinal cord. The reduction of radiation-related toxicity is also particularly beneficial for patients with compromised lung function or cardiovascular disease.

Lung Cancer
Treatment Details

Types of Lung Cancer We Treat

  • Non-small cell lung cancer
  • Small cell lung cancer
  • Malignant mesothelioma
  • Selected recurrent and metastatic cancer
  • Mediastinal tumors (thymoma, sarcoma)
  • Recurrent cancer

How Do We Treat Lung Cancer

  • Target the tumor only
  • Protect your heart, esophagus, spinal cord and healthy lung tissue
  • Maintain your quality of life during lung cancer treatment
  • Reduce side effects of treatment, including esophagitis and pneumonitis
  • Lower the risk of secondary cancer due to radiation

Benefits of Proton Therapy for Lung 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 lung tumor. This allows us to treat more complex tumor shapes and vary the dose within the tumor.
  • Advanced proton therapy treatment for lung cancer allows doctors to more selectively deliver high-dose radiation to cancerous lung tumors and tissues, 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 a diseased lung can minimize damage to a healthy lung, heart, esophagus, and spinal cord tissues. This is extremely important as damage to these sensitive structures may have significant side effects such as esophagitis and pneumonitis, and lower your quality of life. Our technology also reduces radiation to bone marrow, which may reduce treatment-related fatigue.
  • Many patients suffer from underlying lung or heart diseases. The pinpoint accuracy of pencil beam scanning minimizes radiation exposure to these areas and helps prevent worsening of these conditions.
  • Research shows that proton therapy is as effective as X-ray radiation in treating non-small cell lung cancer and may reduce side effects such as inflammation of the lungs and esophagus. Studies show some lung cancer patients can receive higher therapeutic doses with fewer radiation side effects.
  • Unlike with older technology, the lung cancer proton therapy 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.

Is Proton Therapy for
Lung Cancer Right for You?


Only about 20 percent of lung tumors can be treated with surgery; the rest typically require high doses of radiation or a combination of radiation and other treatments. Treatment options also are affected by the type of lung cancer, age, overall health and personal preferences.

Treatment for
Recurrent Lung Cancer

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

Lung Cancer Proton Therapy Treatment Outcomes & Long-Term Effects

Proton therapy treatment 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 esophagitis and pneumonitis due to radiation damage to the esophagus and lung. It also offers the possibility of lower chances for 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