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Seattle Cancer Care Alliance and Northwest Hospital Sign Letter of Intent to Develop Proton Therapy Center for Cancer Treatment
Date:2/8/2008

Facility will be the only one if its kind in the Pacific Northwest

SEATTLE, Feb. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA) and Northwest Hospital & Medical Center today announced the signing of a letter of intent to explore the development of a new, state-of-the-art cancer treatment facility offering proton beam radiation therapy.

SCCA originally announced its intention to develop a proton-therapy facility in September 2006 and has since been working to secure financing, develop supporting partnerships and determine a location. Under the letter of intent, Northwest Hospital will house the new facility on its 33-acre, north Seattle campus and will become an equity partner in the project.

The new center, featuring a proton-beam therapy system from Hitachi America Ltd., will be the first of its kind in the region and one of seven currently operating or under development in the United States. When completed, the center is expected to draw patients from throughout the Pacific Northwest and West Coast.

"We see this facility as a regional resource -- a new treatment option for cancer patients throughout the Northwest," said Norm Hubbard, executive vice president of the SCCA. "Proton therapy is an exciting and emerging technology, but much more research needs to be done to determine all the best and most appropriate uses.

"Making new therapies more widely available as they are developed in a world-class research environment is a core mission of the SCCA, and it's a key reason why Northwest Hospital was interested in joining us in this endeavor."

Hubbard said it is also why, with the support of Sen. Patty Murray, Rep. David Reichert and the rest of the Washington delegation, the SCCA last year received a $2.1 million federal grant for the proton project.

Northwest Hospital has a long history of partnering with other health care providers to bring expert care and services to the surrounding community, including cancer care, cardiac surgery, and wound care among others. With the proton-therapy project, the SCCA will join Northwest Hospital's cancer-care partners, including Swedish Cancer Institute and others.

"This project is a powerful representation of Northwest Hospital's commitment to bringing the newest minimally invasive technologies to the community and to providing the most comprehensive cancer care available to anyone fighting this disease," said Bill Schneider, Northwest Hospital CEO. "We are excited to partner with a world-class organization like SCCA to build this facility and to enhance our cancer programs by offering access to this breakthrough treatment."

Proton-beam therapy delivers precisely targeted doses of radiation to tumors, destroying cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. In many cases, such therapy can deliver more radiation more precisely than conventional, photon-based (X-ray) radiation treatment. It is being used today to treat many cancers, including those of the eye, head and neck and prostate.

Proton therapy is a particularly valuable option for treating children, whose developing organs, bones and brains may suffer long-term damage from incidental irradiation during conventional radiation treatment. The pinpoint targeting

"Proton-beam therapy will allow more precise targeting of radiation, sparing the normal, yet immature tissue around a tumor in young children," said Thomas N. Hansen, M.D., CEO at Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center. "Proton-beam therapy could reduce long-term growth and development side effects. The combination of excellent cancer treatment with fewer side effects makes proton beam therapy an exciting innovation."

About Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, established in 1998, unites the adult and pediatric cancer-care services of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center. A major focus of SCCA is to speed the transfer of new diagnostic and treatment techniques from the research setting to the patient bedside while providing premier, patient-focused cancer care. Patients who come to SCCA receive the latest research-based cancer therapies as well as cutting-edge treatments for a number of non-malignant diseases under development by its partner organizations. SCCA has three clinical-care sites: an outpatient clinic on the Fred Hutchinson campus, a pediatric-inpatient unit at Children's and an adult-inpatient unit at UW Medical Center. For more information about SCCA, visit http://www.seattlecca.org.

About Northwest Hospital & Medical Center

Founded in 1960, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center is a full-service, non-profit hospital located minutes north of downtown Seattle. With 281 licensed beds, more than 1,600 employees and all private rooms, it offers some of the most innovative, technologically advanced medical care available. Major clinical programs and services include: emergency services; critical care; cardiac care; neurosciences; stroke center; cancer care; childbirth services; bariatric surgery; sports medicine; medical rehabilitation; geropsychiatric center; Gamma Knife(R) Center; diagnostic imaging; laboratory services; and education and wellness programs, among others. For more information about Northwest Hospital and its programs and services, call (206) 364-0500 or (206) 633-4636 for the Physician Referral Line, or visit http://www.nwhospital.org.

Media Contacts:

Dean Forbes, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, (206) 667-2896

Karen Peck, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, (206) 368-1609


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SOURCE The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
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