Inova L.J. Murphy Children's Hospital > Pediatric Services > Children's Cancer > Radiation Oncology and Proton Therapy

Radiation Oncology and Proton Therapy

Radiation Oncology Team with patient

Inova Schar Cancer Institute offers radiation oncology and proton therapy cancer services for young patients who need radiation therapy as part of their cancer treatment. Our team of radiation oncologists will work closely with pediatric care teams to provide the highest quality radiation treatment.

Our radiation oncology and proton therapy care team is here to help. We will discuss the details of your child's cancer with you, the role of radiation in the treatment plan, which radiation treatment plans are available and what to expect from radiation treatment. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call 571-472-0606.

What is Proton Therapy?

Proton therapy is a type of radiation therapy which uses a specialized machine that moves around the patient’s body to aim the beam at the tumor from many angles to match the shape and depth of the mass. Proton therapy delivers a narrow beam of radiation to destroy the cancerous cells and prevent the tumor from spreading.

This precise and advanced form of radiation therapy destroys cancerous cells and prevents the tumor from spreading. When compared to traditional radiation therapy, proton therapy patients experience fewer harmful, long-term side effects of the treatment, as well as less short-term side effects, like nausea, headache, appetite loss and diarrhea. This is especially important for children, whose bodies are still growing and developing.

Why Choose Inova Children's?

The Inova Children's Cancer Program is a highly respected program with a celebrated reputation for meeting the unique needs of young cancer patients and their families. The program boasts a team of over 30 world-class medical experts who specialize in treating childhood cancers, and includes Child Life Specialists who are clinically trained in the developmental impact of illness and injury and specialize in helping families cope in the medical setting. Our compassionate dedicated team of pediatric specialists are with each patient and their families every step of the way, from the initial consultation to the final treatment.

Inova's Proton Therapy Center—the only health system in Virginia which offers proton therapy—is located at Inova Schar Cancer Institute, one of the nation’s top 50 cancer programs.

Conditions We Treat

Brain and Central Nervous System Tumors

  • Astrocytoma
  • Atypical teratoid rhabdoid tumors (ATRT)
  • Craniopharyngioma
  • Ependymoma
  • Germ cell tumors (choriocarcinoma, teratoma, germinoma)
  • Glioma (glioblastoma, low-grade glioma)
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Meningioma
  • Optic nerve tumors
  • Optic pathway/hypothalamic glioma
  • Pinoblastoma
  • Primitive neuro-ectodermal tumor (intracranial PNET)

Solid Tumors

  • Chondrosarcoma
  • Chordoma
  • Ewing sarcoma
  • Head and neck carcinomas (parotid, nasopharyngeal)
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Osteosarcoma
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Rhabdomyosarcoma (and other soft tissue sarcomas)
  • Soft tissue sarcomas (rhabdomyosarcoma, leiomyosarcoma, liposarcoma, fibrosarcoma, synovial sarcoma)
  • Tumors of the head and neck
  • Wilms' tumor


  • Hodgkin
  • Non-Hodgkin

Our Team

The Pediatric Proton Therapy program is led by Dr. Avani Rao. Dr. Rao joined Radiation Oncology Associates in 2020 and serves as the Director of the Pediatric Radiation Oncology Program at Inova Schar Cancer Institute.

Transferring Care

If you are choosing Inova Children’s solely for proton therapy, we will work in collaboration with your home care team, making recommendations to your primary oncologist and ensuring all parties are kept informed throughout the process.

One of our pediatric oncologists with expertise in your child's specific cancer will oversee and coordinate treatment while you are at Inova Children’s for proton therapy. If your child needs lab work, chemotherapy, imaging, or other types of services, we’ll work with your primary oncologist to facilitate these procedures, services, and treatments while you are away from home.

You will have access to the full resources of Inova Children's Cancer Center, including psychosocial services which provide support for your child's siblings and your entire family.