In the field of medical treatment, proton therapy, or proton radiotherapy, is a type of particle therapy that uses a beam of protons to irradiate diseased tissue, most often to treat cancer. The chief advantage of proton therapy over other types of external beam radiotherapy is that the dose of protons is deposited over a narrow range of depth, which results in minimal entry, exit, or scattered radiation dose to healthy nearby tissues.
When evaluating whether to treat a tumor with photon or proton therapy, physicians may choose proton therapy if it is important to deliver a higher radiation dose to targeted tissues while significantly decreasing radiation to nearby organs at risk. The American Society for Radiation Oncology Model Policy for Proton Beam therapy states that proton therapy is considered reasonable in instances where sparing the surrounding normal tissue "cannot be adequately achieved with photon-based radiotherapy" and can benefit the patient. Like photon radiation therapy, proton therapy is often used in conjunction with surgery and/or chemotherapy to most effectively treat cancer.