Proton Therapy Center

Director: James D. Cox, M.D.

The Proton Therapy Center provides advanced radiation therapy while supporting an array of research and educational programs. Proton therapy is a precise, non-invasive treatment option for patients with certain types of cancer. The Proton Therapy Center makes appointments for patients by self-referral or physician referral. It is one of four proton beam treatment centers in the nation and one of only three hospital-based proton therapy centers. Patient treatment began in June 2006.

Center Details

  • 200-ton gantries, rotating devices 35 feet in diameter, to direct proton beams with sub-millimeter precision
  • Reinforced eight-foot-thick walls to shield patients and staff
  • Four treatment rooms
  • Reception area with a fully stocked patient library, meeting and lecture rooms and treatment planning rooms
  • Capacity to treat 3,500 patients a year

Research and Treatment

The Proton Therapy Center has more than doubled the nation's capacity to deliver proton beam radiation therapy, using state-of-the-art technology. It is only the third proton therapy center in the nation devoted to patient care. There are four centers involved in research.

Proton beams are more effective than traditional radiation therapy in destroying cancer cells in a precise manner while causing very little damage to healthy tissue. The earliest treatment protocols will be for prostate cancer patients. In addition, researchers anticipate that patients with head and neck cancers as well as pediatric cancers would benefit from the precision of this radiation treatment. The center works in close concert with the Center for Advanced Biomedical Imaging Research to locate and destroy cancer cells early in their development.


In a public/private partnership, Hitachi and other investors have constructed and equipped the $127 million facility. Other partners include the Houston-based financial services firm Sanders Morris Harris, Inc.; The Styles Company, a healthcare management and development firm; the Houston Firefighters’ Relief and Retirement Fund; the Houston Police Officers Pension System; General Electric; Varian Medical Systems; and IMPAC Medical Systems.

2008 Update

Dr. Andrew K. Lee represented Dr. James Cox, director of the Proton Therapy Center. The technology and equipment involved in proton therapy are fascinating. An enormous treatment gantry weighing more than 190 tons can deliver protons with such precision and control that the tumor gets the high dose of radiation, not the tissues around it. But advanced equipment is only half the story. The other half is the team of medical and physics experts at the Proton Therapy Center who have treated more than 450 patients since May 2006. “Combine the best equipment with the best people in order to get the best results.” That’s an MD Anderson tradition that is proving true yet again at the Proton Therapy Center.

Related Care Center

Proton Therapy Center