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Four considerations before embarking on a carbon therapy center

March 25, 2019
Rad Oncology Proton Therapy
From the March 2019 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
• Heavier bunker and gantry point loads require more foundation support;
• Larger equipment utility loads require more power and cooling;
• Longer construction time adds to contractor management costs.

These considerations will also play a role in construction time. The larger/heavier bunkers will require more time for construction. And depending on the number of treatment rooms, the time from start of construction to when the facility is ready to receive the equipment will be greater than the 12-16 months typically accomplished in a proton facility.

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In addition to the construction factors, design for evolving technology and equipment may require more time to finalize interface documentation and resulting building design. The clinical variations in treatment for carbon therapy may also require more planning and design time to address different patient volumes and case mix, not to mention the uncertainties of FDA approval that may require more equipment design resolution and building design time.

Those pursuing a new carbon facility can also expect greater shielding analysis time since there is less data available from operating facilities and a smaller cohort of experienced heavy ion facility physicists. And the absence of extensive regulatory shielding experience may require more time for review and approvals.

To mitigate such challenges, an experienced architecture and engineering team provides high value and lower risk for owners. As with any emerging method, partnering with a team at the leading edge of new applications will help streamline planning, anticipate hurdles, and address issues proactively.

The value of carbon
The current state of carbon therapy is similar to the early days of proton center projects: the commercial treatment systems are relatively new, the clinical function and work flow variations are evolving, the cost and project schedules are higher, and the systems are not FDA approved yet. So why pursue carbon?

Erik Mollo-Christensen
The clinical benefits of treating previously untreatable or difficult cancers, the shorter treatment course (and cost), and the opportunity to continuously improve cancer treatment are all strong reasons to move forward.

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