Proton therapy: information for patients

Frequently asked questions

Accessibility and opening hours

The PARTICLE proton therapy centre is located at the Health Sciences campus Gasthuisberg of UZ Leuven in Leuven (Flemish Brabant).

If you wish to drive your own car, we recommend discussing this with your doctor first.

Alternatives

  • You can be brought and picked up by a family member, friend or neighbour. They can use the kiss-and-ride lot in parking West or East, where you can park briefly (less than 30 minutes). Read more about parking at campus Gasthuisberg.
  • Most health insurance funds organise taxi transport at democratic prices, so be sure to inquire about this with your own health insurance fund.

If you live too far from the PARTICLE proton therapy centre to make daily journeys, you may be able to stay near Leuven. Our department's social workers can advise you on this.

Treatments are carried out Monday to Friday between 7.45am and 6pm. No irradiation is carried out on public holidays or at weekends, unless the irradiator was unavailable for several days during the previous week due to maintenance.

The secretariat can be reached by telephone every working day from 8am to 4pm on 016 34 76 00 or via email radiotherapie@uzleuven.be.

The start of a proton therapy treatment

Our team will be happy to help you in Dutch, French or English. If necessary, an interpreter can be provided.

No. Applications for proton therapy are made through a referring radiotherapist-oncologist. Do you not yet have a referral? Then first make an appointment with your own radiotherapist-oncologist or with one of the radiotherapists-oncologists working in PARTICLE with a specialisation in proton therapy.

For a contribution to the costs of proton therapy treatment, an application is submitted to the Agreement Board for hadron therapy of the RIZIV before the treatment starts. The decision of the Agreement Board will be sent to you by letter by the NIHDI and will also be communicated to you by your treating radiotherapist-oncologist.

More info on the procedure can be found on the NIHDI website (https://www.riziv.fgov.be/nl/professionals/verzorgingsinstellingen/ziekenhuizen/zorg/Paginas/hadrontherapie.aspx).

Additional costs are possibly linked to the treatment of possible side effects of the radiotherapy (e.g. medication or care materials), possibly additional (e.g. anaesthesia) or simultaneous treatments (e.g. chemotherapy), or treatment of other simultaneous diseases, insofar as these are not covered by compulsory health insurance. For more information, you can always contact your attending radiotherapist-oncologist.

About three to four weeks are needed to complete the discussion within the multidisciplinary PARTICLE team and - if applicable - to obtain an agreement for reimbursement from the NIHDI.

The CT-simulation

The duration of a simulation can vary from an hour to an hour and a half.

No. A CT-simulation is painless.

The first radiation treatment usually follows two to three weeks after the CT-simulation. That time span is needed to make your treatment plan and check it thoroughly.

The radiation treatment

The radiotherapist-oncologist determines how your treatment will proceed. Even for the same condition, treatment can differ from patient to patient. Read all about it here.

No. Irradiation is painless. However, the device may make a sharp buzzing sound during irradiation.

A radiation mask is used for patients radiated on the head or neck. It allows the patient to remain completely still during irradiation. Read all about it here.

No, unless the treatment takes place under anaesthesia. This is usually only the case in young children (≤6 years of age) who are not yet able to remain still for a sufficiently long time. Guidelines on what you may or may not eat or drink again will be discussed with you during the consultation.

Radiotherapy is precision work. It is important that you lie on the treatment table in exactly the same way during each irradiation session, so that the radiation enters the body only as prescribed in the individual treatment plan. Young children (≤ 6 years old) who cannot yet lie still for long enough are therefore put to sleep.

For safety reasons, this is not allowed.

An exception is provided for paediatric patients in the form of a short, one-off tour of the radiation room together with the parents. This usually takes place on the day of CT-simulation.

Side effects and care during treatment

After the treatment

Yes, but only once it has been released by the radioprotection service. This is why it is usually only given with the first check-up visit.

During radiotherapy

You will have weekly or fortnightly appointments with the radiotherapist-oncologist or a trainee doctor-specialist, following the radiation session. Your doctor will check whether you tolerate the radiotherapy well. You will also have the opportunity to ask questions or request certificates and prescriptions.

After irradiation

On the last day of your irradiation treatment, you will be given an appointment for the next check-up with the referring physician. You will remain under observation to further monitor the effect of your treatment. Annually, you will also have an appointment with a radiotherapist-oncologist working in the proton therapy centre. If, in the days or weeks after finishing radiotherapy, you do not feel well or are worried about certain things, you can request an early consultation by telephone after consulting your GP.

More information

Information room, brochures and information on the internet

A special information room is located near the reception desk of the Radiation Unit. In addition to UZ Leuven brochures, you will find additional information about your illness, prevention, healthy lifestyles, social services, self-help groups and other topics. There are also a number of computers available on which you can search for information yourself. Or you can simply have a drink and possibly chat with other patients.

Kom op tegen Kanker

Kom op tegen Kanker wants to inform and support people with cancer and those around them during the treatment and coping period. To this end, it has developed a wide range of services. Kom op tegen Kanker organises information sessions on various aspects of the disease. In our department, a volunteer is always available on Tuesdays and Thursdays to lend a listening ear. Feel free to ask.

Stichting tegen Kanker

The Foundation against Cancer also provides various services to promote the well-being of people with cancer and their loved ones.

Informative and interactive sessions for people with cancer and their loved ones (UZ Leuven Campus Gasthuisberg)

A cancer diagnosis brings many questions, uncertainties and worries. The Leuven Cancer Institute (LKI) offers you and your loved ones an extensive programme of information and meeting opportunities on a wide range of topics.

For practical and administrative questions, please contact the radiation department secretariat. (The staff at the reception desk in the shared waiting room proton therapy and radiology (MR and mammography) are not familiar with it). The secretarial staff can be reached by phone every working day from 8.00 to 16.00 o'clock at 016 34 76 00 or via email radiotherapie@uzleuven.be.

For all your medical questions regarding your proton therapy treatment, you can always contact your treating radiotherapist-oncologist or one of the nurses of the proton therapy team.

Specific questions related to proton therapy can also be emailed to protontherapy@uzleuven.be.

You can contact the social workers with questions or concerns around:

  • personal processing (of the disease or treatment);
  • the impact of the diagnosis and/or treatment on family life and social functioning;
  • maintaining social contacts and time commitment;
  • mutual communication between you as a patient and the treatment team;
  • reintegration into your work situation;
  • practical arrangements related to treatment (e.g. transport);
  • clearance of the financial situation;
  • referral to social services;
  • assistance with insurance questions;
  • help in the home situation;
  • residential care (e.g. a convalescent home, short stay, etc.);
  • referral to peer groups and patient associations;
  • referral to other disciplines (e.g. a dietician, a psychologist, a relaxation therapist, ...);
  • general information or educational materials tailored to children;
  • organisation of language assistance, if needed.
Last edit: 17 February 2023