University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center is breaking ground today on a $30 million proton therapy center, becoming one of an elite group of cancer centers in the country to offer this revolutionary technology. There are currently only 11 operational proton therapy centers in the nation and the UH Seidman Cancer Center site will be the first in Ohio.
Proton therapy is an advanced type of radiation treatment that uses a powerful beam of protons to precisely target a tumor and at the same time reduce radiation to uninvolved tissues. Traditional radiation therapy uses photon beams, which are highly effective for a broad variety of cancers. However, in some cases, proton beams offer enhanced abilities to deliver radiation doses while selectively sparing healthy tissue. Most notably the use of protons is beneficial for the treatment of some cancers in children and young adults, who are more prone to short and long-term complications from radiation.
"There are several benefits to the delivery of radiation treatment with protons rather than photons for certain types of cancer, and we believe that this represents the next important advancement in radiation therapy. We are very excited to bring this leading-edge technology to Ohio," says Nathan Levitan, MD, President, UH Seidman Cancer Center. "We have made this $30 million investment in keeping with our commitment to bring the most advanced cancer-fighting treatments and technology to our community and to the country as a national leader in cancer care."
Scheduled to open to patients in 2015, the Proton Therapy Center will be housed in an 11,000-square-foot facility on the UH Case Medical Center campus. The technology will be used primarily for pediatric cancer patients as well as patients with certain brain and spine malignancies. The utility of this new therapy is being studied in a variety of other cancer types as well.
UH signed an agreement in 2011 with Mevion Medical Systems (formerly Still River Systems) to purchase the MEVION S250 Proton Therapy System, the next generation of proton therapy technology. While the first generation of proton beam systems require massive equipment, large facilities and cost up to $150 million to implement, scientific breakthroughs by Mevion have led to the development of this first-of-its-kind more compact and less costly model. The MEVION S250 received FDA approval in June 2012.
"Proton beams have unique physical properties that allow reduced doses of radiation to uninvolved normal tissue," says David Mansur, MD, Director of the Proton Therapy Center. "They are the ultimate means of reaching certain tumors, especially those in pediatric cancer patients whose bodies are still growing. Children are more susceptible to the long-term adverse affects of radiation therapy and the use of proton beam therapy should help reduce these risks. One of the most exciting aspects of our new proton center is its proximity to UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital which will allow easy access for our pediatric patients and families. Most proton therapy centers are located many miles away from the nearest children's hospital. Clinical research trials studying the best means of using protons are in development, and we will be among the leaders in research studies of proton beam radiotherapy."
The technology will complement UH Seidman Cancer Center's existing, state-of-the-art photon-beam based radiation therapy services, which include Synergy-S Hexapod, Cyberknife, TomoTherapy and Perfexion Gamma Knife. UH is one of the only cancer centers in the country to offer such a broad range of advanced photon-based radiation technology under one roof.