A 220-ton cyclotron, the core of what will soon be Illinois’ most advanced radiation treatment center, has ended a 5,000-mile journey that began in Belgium, arriving at the construction site of the CDH Proton Therapy Center, a ProCure Center, located in suburban Warrenville. Capable of accelerating protons, the cyclotron is the core piece of equipment used in proton therapy, an alternative to X-ray radiation that spares healthy tissue and results in far fewer short- and long-term treatment side effects. It is one of the few cyclotrons in the nation used for the treatment of cancer.
“This is an important day and a significant milestone for the proton center, which will be the first in Illinois to offer this advanced therapy for patients,” said John Henderson, chief operating officer, ProCure Treatment Centers, Inc. “Construction is advancing ahead of schedule, and we are anticipating starting to treat patients in early 2011.”
A cancer care campus is being developed in Warrenville to include the proton center and the Central DuPage Hospital Comprehensive Outpatient Cancer Treatment and Imaging Center. “We are committed to ensuring patients have access to the latest and best treatments in cancer care. We have been passionate about bringing proton therapy to patients in Illinois for many years, and we look forward to the day the first patient walks through the doors,” said Jim Spear, CDH executive vice president and chief financial officer. The adjacent outpatient and imaging center is anticipated to open in spring 2010.
“The excitement is building and we are counting the days until we open this proton center and patients begin arriving for treatment,” said William Hartsell, M.D., who leads Radiation Oncology Consultants (ROC), the radiation oncology group that is developing the proton center with CDH and ProCure. “Proton therapy is a meaningful advance and an important treatment option for many of our patients. We welcome this with open arms.”
“A little more than a year ago, I was cheering the arrival of the cyclotron at the ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City, and two months ago we celebrated the opening of that center – ProCure’s first. Patients are now receiving this life-saving treatment there,” said Hadley Ford, chief executive officer of ProCure. “Our mission is to bring proton therapy to people with cancer and we are now one step closer to making that a reality in Illinois.”
“It is rewarding to be part of creating a proton center in a metropolitan region that offers such exceptional health care,” said Pierre Mottet, chief executive officer of Ion Beam Applications (IBA), the manufacturer of the cyclotron and other precision equipment that will be used in the Center. “We have worked collaboratively with ProCure to develop new technologies for treating patients with protons and in bringing this important therapy to patients faster. The ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma achieved a world record of 27 months from construction to the first patient treated and we are on pace to do that again in Illinois.”
The cyclotron traveled four weeks, leaving the port of Antwerp, Belgium, and entering the United States through the St. Lawrence Seaway. It traveled aboard a cargo ship, arriving at the Burns Harbor International Port where it was loaded onto two 19-axle, 180-foot-long trailers made specifically for extraordinarily large cargo. Traveling at a top speed of 40 mph, the trailers made the 130-mile trek to the Warrenville site, which is near I-88 and Winfield Road in the Cantera development.
The cyclotron has an 18-foot diameter and stands eight feet high. After a hydrogen atom’s electron is removed, the remaining proton is accelerated to two-thirds the speed of light; electromagnets then steer groups of protons into a beamline. The beam is shaped specifically to conform to the tumor size and shape. The precise delivery of protons to the patient is supported by a highly advanced computer control and a state of the art robotic patient positioning system (PPS). The PPS was invented by ProCure and developed with IBA. Its unique design makes it more user-friendly, with greater freedom of motion and flexibility than currently available systems.
The 60,000 sq. ft. Warrenville Center will have four state-of-the-art treatment rooms, including two Inclined Beam Rooms, a technology developed by ProCure at its Training and Development Center in Bloomington, Ind. The Inclined Beam Room is a cost-effective and space-saving alternative to a gantry, the industry standard. The Warrenville Center will be the second proton center in the country with Inclined Beam Room technology, following ProCure’s Oklahoma City Center. The Warrenville Center will have the capacity to treat approximately 1,500 patients a year.