Close navigation

Side-effects of Proton Beam Therapy (PBT)

One of the key advantages of proton beam therapy over conventional radiotherapy is that it is more targeted. It does less damage to the healthy tissue around the tumour and the rest of the brain. This means it causes fewer side-effects, however, there are a few side-effects which are not uncommon.

What are the short term side-effects of radiotherapy?

The following side-effects are usually temporary and often disappear after treatment has finished:

  • fatigue
  • redness that resembles sunburn - this can appear in the area where the proton beam was directed
  • hair loss.

What are the longer term side-effects of proton beam therapy?

Longer-term effects after PBT treatment in children can include hearing loss, which can be severe, and cognitive impairment, particularly in thinking speed and understanding language.

Hormone levels can be affected in up to 55% of children, with growth hormone being the most commonly affected.

However, all these effects are also possible side-effects of conventional radiotherapy. Ask your radiotherapy team about any side-effects you or your child may experience.

Will I be radioactive after treatment?

No, you do not need to take special precautions when you leave the hospital - it is safe to be around others, including children.

If you have further questions, need to clarify any of the information on this page, or want to find out more about research and clinical trials, please contact our team:

Information and Support line

0808 800 0004 (free from landlines and mobiles)

Phone lines open Mon-Fri, 09:00-17:00

You can also join our active online community on Facebook - find out more about our groups.

Get support

If you need someone to talk to or advice on where to get help, we offer a wide range of inclusive and accessible support services for everyone affected by a brain tumour.