Q&A with Abram Gordon, executive director of Cincinnati Children’s pediatric proton center

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Q&A with Abram Gordon, executive director of Cincinnati Children’s pediatric proton center

by Sean Ruck, Contributing Editor | September 13, 2016
From the September 2016 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine

HCB News: What do you think are the biggest untapped opportunities?
I think the opportunity, in reality, is [in] where our research in this area takes us. There’s been a ton of research into conventional radiation therapy, but there hasn’t been nearly as much research into proton therapy. People really don’t know how it kills cancer cells, the way they know how conventional radiation does it. We don’t yet know the treatments, using a combination of drugs and protons, to make proton therapy most effective. We don’t know if certain cancer cells will react differently to traditional radiation compared to proton therapy, so I think the biggest challenges are unlocking some of those mysteries.

HCB News: What advancements do you predict for proton therapy in the next decade?

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I think there are a couple of different answers. There’s recently been a significant advancement in delivery method, from passive scanner to pencil beam, where you can create almost a ball of radiation that conforms to the tumor. From the treatment delivery side, we’re at the cutting edge, so there probably won’t be a lot of advancements in that area in the next 10 years. It will be about other aspects of the equipment. Smaller and less expensive systems will probably come to market. Right now, we’re going to be about the 24th center to open, and in the next 10 years there will be a lot more as the price comes down.

The other piece involves the advancements in proton therapy. As there are more centers and more spent on research, it very well could be more effective in the future and people will have a better understanding of when to use different types of radiation therapies.

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