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University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center Announces $30 Million Proton Therapy Center

CLEVELAND, May 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center announced plans to establish a $30 million proton therapy center, becoming one of an elite group of cancer centers in the country to offer this revolutionary technology.

Proton therapy is an advanced type of radiation treatment that uses a powerful beam of protons to precisely target and match treatment to the shape of a tumor with incredible accuracy. Traditional radiation therapy uses photon beams, which are highly effective for a broad variety of tumors and cancers. However, in some cases, proton beam radiation therapy offers enhanced abilities to deliver higher and more conformal radiation doses, while selectively sparing healthy tissue in the body.  In addition, the use of protons is extremely valuable for the treatment of some cancers in children and young adults, who seem to be more prone to short and long-term complications from radiation.

There are only nine proton therapy centers in the nation and the UH Seidman Cancer Center site will be the first confirmed in Ohio.

"There are many benefits to the delivery of radiation treatment with protons rather than photons for several 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."

UH has signed an agreement with Still River Systems to purchase the Monarch 250 Proton Therapy System, the next generation proton therapy technology. While the first generation of proton beam systems require massive equipment and cost up to $150 million to implement, scientific breakthroughs by Still River Systems, located in Littleton, Massachusetts, have led to the development of this first-of-its-kind more compact and less costly model that provides the latest proton therapy delivery system in a single vault (one room) installation. The Monarch 250 is in the final developmental stages with FDA approval anticipated in the near future and several other centers around the globe have plans to implement the system.

When this new initiative is complete in 2014, it will add another dimension to the state-of-the-art therapies at the UH Seidman Cancer Center, which is opening a freestanding, 150-bed cancer hospital on the UH Case Medical Center campus in June and is part of the National Cancer Institute-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center.

"Building a proton therapy center is a huge boon for our patients as well as this entire region," says Stan Gerson, MD, Director of the UH Seidman Cancer Center and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. "Our new cancer hospital brings a wealth of diagnostic and treatment technologies under one roof to provide the nation's most advanced cancer care and this new proton therapy center is the next tool in our arsenal. This novel system with its compact nature will be fully integrated within the Seidman Cancer Center."

Proton therapy has the ability to minimize damage to delicate tissues surrounding the cancer itself.  This is particularly important when treating hard-to-reach malignancies, such as certain brain, head and neck and pelvic cancers. 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.

"With the addition of a proton beam facility, we will be able to offer a full array of the latest in cutting edge radiotherapy," says Mitch Machtay, MD, Chairman of Radiation Oncology at UH Case Medical Center and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. "Protons are the ultimate means of reaching certain tumors and protecting critical vital organs that are located right behind or adjacent to those tumors. This 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."

"Over the next decade, proton therapy is likely to become an increasingly important modality for the delivery of radiation therapy to children, who have highly sensitive bones, internal organs, and other tissues," adds John Letterio, MD, chief of Pediatric Oncology at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital and Professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.  "The smallest of our patients will see some of the biggest benefits."

Protons enter the body with a low radiation dose and deposit the bulk of their cancer-fighting energy right at the tumor. The proton beam then effectively stops at the 'back edge' of the tumor, matching the tumor's shape, volume and depth. Once this energy has been deposited at the tumor site, there is little additional radiation exposure or damage to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor. This can allow a higher dose of radiation to be delivered directly to the cancerous cells while sparing healthy tissues and critical areas of the body near the tumor, potentially resulting in more reliable control of the tumor with fewer treatment complications. Clinical research trials studying the best means of using protons to achieve these goals are in development, and Drs. Gerson, Levitan,  Machtay and Letterio emphasize that UH will be among the leaders in clinical research studies of proton beam radiotherapy.

About University Hospitals

University Hospitals serves the needs of patients through an integrated network of hospitals, outpatient centers and primary care physicians.  At the core of our health system is University Hospitals Case Medical Center.  The primary affiliate of Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, University Hospitals Case Medical Center is home to some of the most prestigious clinical and research centers of excellence in the nation and the world, including cancer, pediatrics, women's health, orthopedics and spine, radiology and radiation oncology, neurosurgery and neuroscience, cardiology and cardiovascular surgery, organ transplantation and human genetics. Its main campus includes the internationally celebrated UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the nation; UH MacDonald Women's Hospital, Ohio's only hospital for women; and UH Seidman Cancer Center, part of the NCI-designated Case Comprehensive Cancer Center. For more information, go to

SOURCE University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center
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