In a testament to the increasing availability and diminishing costs associated with proton therapy, the first ever physician-owned proton facility is now treating patients in need of the highly advanced form of radiation therapy.
It was announced today that the Ackerman Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida has successfully begun treatment for its first four patients. Over the first seven days of operation eight total patients will begin their therapy, with cancers affecting the salivary gland, prostate, tongue, and base of the skull.
That makes Ackerman only the second facility to begin clinical operation with the MEVION S250, a smaller-footprint proton system than others on the market.
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"Historically, proton therapy has not been widely accessible to patients — only available at select institutions and universities. I am very excited to have the MEVION S250 at my physician-owned center because it increases access to this innovative treatment for patients in the community," Dr. Scot Ackerman, radiation oncologist and medical director of Ackerman Cancer Center, told DOTmed News.
The system fits in a single room and and uses up to 90 percent less energy than traditional systems — which can be as big as football fields and cost upwards of $100 million. A stop-motion video documents the construction process of the facility:
Ackerman's facility is a full-service cancer center, offering a variety of treatment options, which he said enables him and his colleagues to precisely tailor treatment to the unique needs of their patients.
"This is a momentous occasion for our center, as we are now able to provide this lifesaving and quality-of-life-improving treatment in addition to our current radiotherapeutic modalities. As advances in research demonstrate the benefits of proton therapy in more and more clinical situations, this type of therapy is instrumental in the fight against cancer," said Ackerman.
MEVION S250 installations are also in various stages of completion at several other locations across the U.S. The Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma is expected to start treating patients within the next few months. Meanwhile, installation has begun for a MedStar Georgetown University proton center in Washington D.C., and three other systems are planned for development at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Jersey, the University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland, and the University of Florida Health Cancer Center.