by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | March 21, 2022
Atrium Health has set to work on building a $69 million radiation therapy facility that will be the first site in the Charlotte area of North Carolina to offer this form of cancer treatment.
Located on Atrium Health’s midtown campus and near the soon-to-be-built Wake Forest School of Medicine, the facility will offer proton therapy and Gamma Knife radiosurgery, a noninvasive treatment for brain lesions, to adults and children with complex tumors. Both types can target tumors more precisely and spare healthy tissues, particularly critical tissues in the brain, than standard radiation.
The proton therapy system will be the MEVION S250i with HYPERSCAN Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS), while Elekta's Icon Leksell Gamma Knife will be used for radiosurgery.
The center is expected to open in 2023, with Gamma Knife radiosurgery beginning mid-year and proton therapy starting later that year.
“The Gamma Knife will allow us to do this even more, which is a huge positive. We are at the forefront of advancing brain metastasis management in the country and this will be another tool to help our patients with complex lesions of the brain receive the most effective treatment possible," said Dr. Stuart Burri, chairman of radiation oncology at Levine Cancer Institute, in a statement.
In addition to being one of 38 proton therapy facilities in the country, the building will be the only center of its kind between Washington, D.C. and Atlanta. This widens the reach of proton therapy, which often has limited access due to a lack of available facilities and expertise, as well as the cost of treatment.
With Gamma Knife radiosurgery, providers will be able to treat cancer in locations of the brain where surgery or standard radiation is challenging to apply. It will also be used to treat other conditions aside from brain metastases.
Radiation oncologists will be specially trained in proton beam therapy and gamma knife radiosurgery during construction, and Atrium Health will hire specialized physicists. Specialists from the Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute, Atrium Health Levine Children’s and Atrium Health Neurosciences Institute will also create an efficient throughput process for patients undergoing Gamma Knife radiosurgery.
Additionally, the space will be used to conduct research collaborations. Burri and Dr. Anthony Asher, president of the Neurosciences Institute and surgical director of the neuro-oncology program at Levine Cancer Institute, plan to run a national cooperative group clinical trial on the advances of Gamma Knife radiosurgery. The trial will start in 2023 and include patients from across the U.S.