by John R. Fischer
, Staff Reporter | September 12, 2019
The first proton therapy center in New York State is now treating patients.
The New York Proton Center kicked off treatments last month at its East Harlem location and is projected to treat approximately 1,400 patients annually.
"By the end of 2019 we aim to be at full operational capacity - meaning all four of our treatment rooms will be available for patients. We expect to reach our projected volume of approximately 1,400 patients annually, which is significantly higher than comparable facilities," NYPC told HCB News. "We have also already begun to move forward with a number of practice-defining clinical trials, and we aim to maintain a robust, comprehensive research program - including clinical, physics and translational research - at the center.
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The idea for the center was born in 2009
, with the Department of Health bringing on board Mount Sinai Health System, Montefiore Medical Center, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center as partners. Following an extensive four-to-five year search, construction commenced in 2015 on the four-treatment-room facility, with the official opening taking place in June of this year
Within these four rooms lies an array of hardware and software provided by Varian Medical Systems for techniques such as pencil beam scanning to maximize radiation directly to tumors, and with volumetric imaging for identifying and targeting cancers at millimeter accuracy.
The center is equipped to treat all forms of cancer that have been proven to benefit from proton therapy, including tumors of the brain and spine, head and neck, breast cancer, lungs and other thoracic organs, gastrointestinal system, and prostate, as well as sarcomas, gynecological cancer, lymphomas and recurrent cancers. It also provides resources for treating pediatric cancer patients.
Opportunities to enroll in clinical studies within the center’s research program will be extended to patients, with the aim being to collect further clinical evidence supporting the use of PT as a critical treatment for complex tumors and difficult-to-treat cases.
While guided by its affiliate partners, the center will conduct its research as an autonomous entity, and is scheduled to begin three randomized Phase III studies on the use of PT for treating breast, prostate, and head and neck cancers.
The availability of the center saves patients the hassle of having to travel to out-of-state facilities for treatment.
"We work in partnership with our hospital affiliates to shape a strong research program through leadership oversight from myself and the chairs of radiation oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering, Mount Sinai and Montefiore, as well as dedicated research councils for both clinical research and basic science research comprised of leading investigators and scientists across our partner institutions," said NYPC. "As an autonomous entity, we are able to leverage the resources of these three leading institutions to support our research program. We have been able to set the parameters for a program that is more ambitious than other proton centers. Our high patient volume, a byproduct of both our consortium hospital support and our location in a high density urban area, ensures we are better positioned than most to engage in meaningfully clinical trials."