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Courtesy: Mevion

First physician-owned proton center purchases second system

by Lisa Chamoff , Contributing Reporter
A Florida proton therapy facility, which opened six months ago, announced this week that it is installing a second, more technologically advanced system, allowing the center to treat even more complex cancers.

The Ackerman Cancer Center (ACC) in Jacksonville, Florida, treats 25 to 30 patients per day, mostly with head and neck cancers. The new machine, the MEVION S250i, has a pencil beam scanning technology. Dr. Scot Ackerman, radiation oncologist and medical director of ACC, said the technology, which is newer than the conventional passive scatter technology, is ideal for treating larger tumors located near the spinal cord and other organs. The majority of ACC’s patients have cancers affecting the larynx, tongue, and base of the skull.

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“It allows us to provide intensely modulated proton therapy, which allows us to be a little more precise than passive scatter proton therapy,” Ackerman told HCB News.

Ackerman said the facility had always planned to invest in a second system, and already has the foundation and other infrastructure in place to install it. They plan to begin construction on the second proton therapy bunker next year. The MEVION S250i is not yet FDA approved, but Ackerman said they expect it to receive approval by 2017, when they will be ready to use it to treat patients.

Back in April, the Florida center was only the second facility to begin clinical operation with the MEVION S250.

The outcomes have proven the worth of the center’s investment, Ackerman said. ACC is the first physician-owned cancer center to offer proton therapy, which targets cancer cells more precisely than traditional radiation therapy, results in less damage to surrounding tissue.

“We always knew that, inherently, proton therapy would allow us to treat patients more safely,” Ackerman said. “We’re seeing that. We’re seeing our patients tolerating the treatment better. We think (the investment) is worth it based on our outcomes.”

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