University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center has broken ground on a $30m proton therapy centre, an 11,000ft² facility on the UH Case Medical Center campus, to treat paediatric cancer patients as well as those with certain brain and spine malignancies.
The facility, which is expected to open in 2015, will position UH as one of the few health systems in the country armed with the latest cancer-fighting technology.
Currently there are only 11 operational proton therapy facilities in the US, and the UH Seidman Cancer Center will be the first in Ohio.
Proton therapy is an advanced type of radiation treatment that uses an external beam of protons directed at a tumour. The radiation dose that is given through protons is very precise, and limits the exposure of normal tissues.
The result is a better chance for curing some kinds of cancers in children and young adults, who are more prone to short and long-term complications from radiation.
UH Seidman Cancer Center president Dr Nathan Levitan said that the delivery of radiation treatment with protons rather than photons can offer many benfits for certain types of cancer, and represents the next important advancement in radiation therapy.
"We have made this $30m 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," Dr Levitan added.
The utility of this new therapy is being studied in a variety of other cancer types as well.
In 2011, UH signed a deal with Mevion Medical Systems, a Massachusetts-based firm formerly known as Still Rivers Systems, to buy its latest proton therapy technology.
Traditional proton therapy systems require large facilities and massive equipment and cost up to $150m but Mevion has been credited with developing a more compact, less costly model.
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 Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine chairman of radiation oncology Dr Mitch Machtay said that the addition of a proton beam facility will enable the centre to offer a full array of the latest in cutting-edge radiotherapy.
"This technology will be a great complement to our existing state-of-the-art radiation oncology equipment and personnel at Seidman, and more importantly, the lives of many people with cancer and their families will be ultimately enhanced by this investment," Dr Machtay added.
Image: Proton therapy centre. Photo courtesy of PR Newswire.