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Introducing proton therapy.

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MEET THE TEAM

Proton Therapy.

The future of proton therapy is here today.
Introducing proton therapy.

Proton Therapy with HYPERSCANTM

There’s good news for adults and children with cancer in the nation’s capital and beyond: MedStar Georgetown University Hospital is proud to offer proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™ technology.

MedStar Georgetown is the first and only site to offer proton therapy in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area—and the first one in the world to offer the latest, most precise form of proton therapy with HYPERSCAN.

Proton therapy can treat any tumor, anywhere in the body. It’s used to treat a variety of conditions, including:

  • Brain tumors
  • Breast cancer
  • Gastrointestinal cancers
  • Gynecologic cancers
  • Head and neck tumors
  • Lung and chest tumors
  • Lymphomas
  • Pediatric tumors
  • Prostate cancer
  • Recurrent tumors
  • Sarcoma/soft tissue
  • Spinal cord tumors

This highly effective therapy could help get your life back on track, cancer-free. Watch this video to learn more 

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Benefits of Proton Therapy

  • Proton therapy has the power to shrink and eliminate cancer and other tumors anywhere in the body
  • Pinpoint accuracy that results in less radiation damage to surrounding healthy tissues
  • Highly customizable treatments tailored to your individual needs
  • Targets and destroys tumors with precise accuracy using pencil beam scanning (PBS)
  • Fewer side effects after treatment, such as nausea and headaches
  • Lower risk of secondary cancer
  • Proton therapy is especially beneficial in certain circumstances 
  • Benefits of proton therapy in children 

Take a virtual tour of our new state-of-the-art facility to find out more.

First Proton Therapy Patient

Grateful for Highly Precise Treatment with Fewer Side Effects

Proton therapy helped save Martha Ramos’ life.

After receiving treatment for a recurrent brain tumor at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, the 54-year-old mother of two is back to enjoying a happy and active life in Germantown, Maryland.

Her success is due in part to a cutting-edge treatment called proton therapy—so cutting-edge, in fact, that Martha was the very first patient to receive proton therapy when the MedStar Georgetown Proton Therapy Center opened its doors in March. Read More >

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Meet the Radiation Medicine Team

Our team of physicians at MedStar Georgetown is made up of the D.C. area’s leading experts, who have specialized knowledge in numerous cancer types and are at the forefront of the latest advances in treatment.

We take a compassionate approach to cancer therapy, guided by the principle cura personalis, which means “care for the whole person.”

Our specialists include oncologists, surgeons, and cancer specialists who utilize the latest radiation technology, tailored to meet your individual needs.

With multiple advanced cancer treatment options available under one roof, MedStar Georgetown is a leader in Radiation Medicine.

Anatoly Dritschilo, MD, was appointed professor and chairman, Department of Radiation Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine, and chief of service, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, in 2010. Previously, Dr. Dritschilo served as interim chair of the Department of Oncology and as interim director of the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center.

In the course of his clinical career, Dr. Dritschilo has treated more than 5,000 patients with cancers of the breast, prostate, lung, gastrointestinal tract, brain tumors and pediatric cancers. He has been instrumental in bringing state-of-the-art therapies and technologies to MedStar Georgetown, including proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™, and CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT). MedStar Georgetown was one of the first CyberKnife sites on the East Coast, leading to its current position as a national leader in volume, experience and expertise. MedStar Georgetown is the first hospital in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area to offer proton therapy and the first in the world to offer proton therapy with HYPERSCAN™.

Dr. Dritschilo is a prolific researcher, with a cumulative total of more than $20 million in NIH awards and nearly 250 peer-reviewed, published articles. He is a regular reviewer and editor for prominent scientific and medical publications, a sought-after presenter at national and international meetings, and a frequent guest lecturer at medical schools around the county. He is the holder of a dozen U.S. patents and serves as a diplomat of the American College of Radiology.

Dr. Dritschilo received his medical degree from the College of Medicine of New Jersey. He completed a residency in radiation therapy and a fellowship in radiation oncology at Harvard Medical School. After a brief stint at Tufts University-New England Medical Center, Dr. Dritschilo joined Georgetown in 1979.

Philosophy of Care: Each patient presents with a unique set of cancer-related and personal circumstances that are best evaluated and treated by a multidisciplinary team for optimal outcomes.

Brian T. Collins, MD, is the medical director of the Department of Radiation Medicine at the Medstar Georgetown University Hospital as well as associate professor within the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Collins joined the staff in 2001 after completing his residency at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. He received his medical degree from SUNY-Stony Brook and completed his internship at St. Vincent’s Hospital and Medical Center in New York City.

Dr. Collins is a board-certified radiation oncologist with a particular interest in treating CNS tumors and has led the Department’s CNS program for the last 15 years. In addition, he has significant clinical experience treating lung and breast cancer. Dr. Collins is a world-renowned expert in CyberKnife® radiotherapy technology. He has also mastered the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools, including proton therapy, CyberKnife stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT), and brachytherapy.

Dr. Collins is a frequent contributor to scientific journals, books, and publications particularly in the areas of CNS, lung, and breast cancer. He is an associate editor for the peer-reviewed journal Frontiers in Radiation Oncology. Dr. Collins is a Fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians (ACCP) and a member of numerous related professional organizations.

Philosophy of Care: Cura personalis, or “care for the whole person,” is the Jesuit tradition that guides my care. Each person’s cancer care requires a multidisciplinary approach. As a team, we consider each person’s physical, emotional, and psychosocial health and how these various factors impact the individual’s overall health, well-being, and outcome.

Peter H. Ahn, MD, joined the medical staff of MedStar Georgetown University Hospital's Department of Radiation Medicine in 2017, after five years as a radiation oncologist and assistant professor with the University of Pennsylvania Health System. Previously, he was an assistant professor at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital in Philadelphia.

Fellowship-trained at MD Anderson Cancer Center and board-certified in radiation oncology, Dr. Ahn has extensive experience in treating cancers of the head and neck, skin (including melanoma), skull base, and brain using a variety of therapeutic approaches, including conventional and proton beam radiation therapies. He is nationally recognized by Castle Connolly's annual publication, America's Top Doctors. 

Dr. Ahn's research has been funded by industry, private, and public sources, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH). His work has been published in peer-reviewed journals. A frequent guest lecturer and presenter, he is also a reviewer for multiple scientific and medical publications.

Philosophy of Care: No two cancer patients are exactly alike, and the ability to customize radiation treatment requires disease-specific training and extensive experience. Minimizing the long-term side-effects of today's advanced treatments is also a major consideration. Dealing with the unique challenges inherent in each patient's social situation, individual goals of care, and tumor characteristics keeps me excited about my work as a member of the dedicated and experienced team of physicians, nurses, technicians and physicists at MedStar Georgetown.

Radiation Oncologist Sean Collins, MD, PhD, is director of the CyberKnife® Prostate Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and associate professor of Radiation Medicine at Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Collins joined Georgetown in 2006 after completing his residency in radiation oncology at MedStar Georgetown and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and, previously, a surgical internship at MedStar Georgetown. In addition to his medical degree, he also holds a doctorate in Biological Chemistry, both from the University of Michigan's Medical Scientist Training Program.

Dr. Collins uses the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools including proton therapy, CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT), intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/RapidArc®), and brachytherapy.

The major focus of Dr. Collins' clinical work is the development of prostate cancer treatment protocols using SBRT. Patients receiving conventionally fractionated radiation therapy are treated daily for approximately 8 to 9 weeks. The treatment schedule is based on logistics and life responsibilities, as such prolonged treatment courses may present unnecessary hardship for patients and families.

To date, Dr. Collins has enrolled more than 200 patients on investigator-initiated, Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved clinical protocols exploring the role of SBRT in prostate cancer treatment. His work has appeared in the American Journal of Clinical Oncology, Radiotherapy and Oncology, International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, Cancer Journal and many other scientific publications. He also serves as a reviewer or editorial board member for numerous other publications, including the New England Journal of Medicine.

Philosophy of Care: We work as a team to make sure that every patient receives the highest quality, most effective treatment available today. That's especially true for prostate cancer patients, where there are so many options. For us, treating prostate cancer is not only about curing the disease, but assuring each patient's long-term quality of life. Toward that end, I establish open communication with my patients, ensuring ease of access and peace of mind from diagnosis through recovery.

K. William Harter, MD, is vice chair of the Department of Radiation Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, and co-director of the multidisciplinary Head and Neck/Skull Base Tumor Service. He also holds the rank of professor at Georgetown University Medical School.

Board-certified in radiation oncology, Dr. Harter specializes in the latest radiation oncology techniques and tools including proton therapy, retreatment of head and neck cancers with CyberKnife®, CyberKnife stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and sterotectic radiosurgery (SRS), and intensity-modulated radiation/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/ RapidArc®).

Dr. Harter was a clinical fellow in head and neck radiation oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School in 1982. Previously, he was a resident at the Harvard Joint Center for Radiation Therapy, preceded by a residency in radiation oncology and an internship in general surgery, both at the Mayo Clinic. Dr. Harter received his medical degree from the Louisiana State University School of Medicine in 1978.

Dr. Harter's work has been published in many scientific journals and periodicals and he has written numerous chapters for medical textbooks. He has been recognized as a "Top Doctor" by Washingtonian magazine every year since the award's inception.

Jonathan W. Lischalk, MD, is a clinical instructor in MedStar Georgetown University Hospital's Department of Radiation Medicine. His clinical focus is treating lung, brain and spine, and prostate cancers. Dr. Lischalk specializes in proton therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT), RapidArc®, CyberKnife® stereotactic body radiation therapy, and stereotactic radiosurgery. His training includes international experience at the Heidelberg University Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany, focused on the technique and delivery of particle therapy, specifically proton and carbon treatment.

Dr. Lischalk is actively involved in collaborative research with the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Georgetown Biomedical Informatics Department and Heidelberg University Hospital. This research is focused on analysis of ccfDNA using scanning microscopy fluoroscopic technique.

Dr. Lischalk's main areas of clinical expertise include central nervous system malignancies, gastrointestinal malignancies, genitourinary malignancies, and thoracic malignancies.

Sonali Rudra, MD, serves as director of the Breast Cancer Radiation Oncology Program at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and an assistant professor for the Department of Radiation Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. She specializes in treating patients with breast cancer, gynecologic malignancies, pediatric malignancies, and central nervous malignancies. She employs a range of technologies, including proton therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/RapidArc®), CyberKnife® stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), and high-dose rate brachytherapy.

Dr. Rudra is widely published in respected clinical journals and serves on an editorial board reviewing clinical articles. She also participates in professional activities, serving as a core member of the team at MedStar Georgetown responsible for accreditation by the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) to ensure clinical quality. She is also a member of the Intraoperative Radiation (IORT) Working Group.

Philosophy of Care: I believe in treating my patients as individuals and strive to provide them with the best possible outcomes while minimizing the effect on their lives.

Andrew Satinsky, MD, is an attending radiation oncologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and clinical director of the Radiation Oncology Center at MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Center.

A specialist in prostate cancer and lung cancer, Dr. Satinsky uses the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools including proton therapy, low- and high-dose rate gynecologic brachytherapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy/image-guided radiation therapy (IMRT/IGRT/RapidArc®), and CyberKnife® stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) and stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT).

Dr. Satinsky has been involved in research on a variety of radiation oncology-related topics. As the chair of the MedStar Georgetown Radiation Oncology Residency Program's Clinical Competency Committee, he helps to train new doctors. Dr. Satinsky also serves as chair of the MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital Cancer Committee and is a member of the education committee.

Board-certified Radiation Oncologist Keith Unger, MD, is director of the Gastrointestinal Cancer Service for the Department of Radiation Medicine at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and director of the Department's residency training program. Concurrently, he serves as associate professor of Radiation Medicine at the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

In addition to general radiation oncology, Dr. Unger specializes in the very latest radiation oncology techniques and tools. These include proton therapy, intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), CyberKnife® stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) and stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS), selective internal radiation therapy (TheraSphere®, SIR-Spheres®), and intraoperative radiation therapy (INTRABEAM®).

Dr. Unger completed his internship at MedStar Washington Hospital Center and residency at MedStar Georgetown, including a year as chief resident for Radiation Oncology. He received both his undergraduate and medical degree from the University of Virginia, where he was the recipient of numerous academic honors and awards.

As a researcher and educator, Dr. Unger has been a co-author of multiple text book chapters and publications in peer-reviewed journals, as well as a presenter at major medical meetings. His research focuses on the development of novel radiation therapy techniques and reduction in treatment related side effects.

Dr. Unger sees patients at both MedStar Georgetown and MedStar Southern Maryland Hospital.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Our team is committed to helping you find out if proton therapy is right for you, answer questions and guide you through the process. Find out what to expect with proton therapy.

Traditional radiation therapy uses photons to treat tumors. Photons radiate not only tumor cells but also everything in their path, including healthy cells and structures around and behind the tumor.

Proton therapy uses protons to treat tumors. Protons can be controlled better than conventional radiation, making this treatment more precise and accurate. As a result, proton therapy can treat tumors without radiation continuing past the tumor (an “exit dose” of radiation). This protects surrounding tissues from harm.

Proton therapy uses pencil beam scanning to deliver radiation and match each tumor’s exact shape and size in 3-D. This allows a single layer of a tumor to be treated at a time, in effect painting the tumor with radiation layer-by-layer and slice-by-slice until the entire area has been treated.

Proton therapy is more accurate and precise than most other forms of radiation therapy. Because it involves significantly less radiation exposure to normal tissues, proton therapy also lowers the risk of side effects and secondary, radiation-induced cancers. Additionally, proton therapy can treat recurrent cancers and children with cancer.

This advanced technology:

  • Targets and destroys tumors with pinpoint accuracy
  • Provides better protection to surrounding healthy tissues
  • Requires less radiation
  • Leaves virtually no exit dose; i.e., little to no radiation continues past the tumor
  • Lowers the risk of radiation-induced secondary cancers
  • Results in fewer side effects and better quality of life
  • Is highly customizable, tailored to your needs

Proton therapy can treat cancer anywhere in the body, including:

  • Brain tumors
  • Breast cancer
  • Gastrointestinal (GI) cancers
  • Gynecologic cancers
  • Head and neck tumors
  • Lung/chest cancers
  • Lymphomas
  • Pediatric tumors
  • Prostate cancer
  • Recurrent, previously irradiated tumors
  • Sarcoma/soft tissue
  • Spinal cord tumors

An adult or child of any age may be a potential candidate for proton therapy. An evaluation by a radiation oncologist will determine whether proton therapy or another course of treatment is the best option for you.

Yes. Proton therapy is generally accepted as part of the standard of care treatment for many pediatric cancers. It can be particularly beneficial for children because:

  • Children are less likely to develop a secondary cancer later in life when treated with proton therapy as it treats tumors while keeping healthy surrounding cells unharmed.
  • Proton therapy lowers a child’s exposure to radiation, avoiding unnecessary exposure to healthy tissues and resulting in less growth impairment as they develop.
  • Proton therapy causes fewer side effects compared to traditional radiation, allowing children to maintain normal activities during treatment.

You will first meet with a radiation oncologist for an evaluation that will include reviewing your medical records, all possible radiation treatments that may be appropriate for your specific health needs, and the risks and benefits of each option. You and your physician will then determine the best plan of care based on a number of factors, including the type of cancer; the tumor’s location, size, and stage; and how well it may respond to different radiation therapies under consideration.

If proton therapy is determined to be your best option, your radiation oncologist and physicist will work together to build a treatment plan. Each plan is carefully configured to meet your needs. If proton therapy is not the best treatment option for you, we offer the full range of radiation therapies available today and can address your needs

The length of the course of treatment depends on each patient’s specific diagnosis, and is determined by the radiation oncologist. In general, the number of individual treatment sessions ranges from 10 to 40, depending upon the type of tumor. However, every patient is unique, so the actual number of treatment sessions may vary.

Medicare is covering proton therapy. Proton therapy is a standard of care for pediatric patients so insurance plans will cover most patients under the age of 21 or 19, depending on the plan. If you are a candidate for the proton therapy, your insurance will be contacted to find out if it is a covered benefit for you. We have hired associates who will help our patients work through and obtain authorization and assist in the appeal process, if necessary.

We anticipate that insurance plans will cover most patients who need proton therapy, which is just a new way to deliver radiation, a treatment that has been around for decades. We will keep you informed as we pursue the process.

If you would like to make an appointment, please contact Cheryl Savage, administrator, Department of Radiation Medicine: [email protected] or 202-444-4639

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