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Work on Canada's first proton therapy center to begin this year in Alberta

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | March 19, 2024
Rad Oncology Proton Therapy
Canada is set to begin work on its first proton therapy center, in Edmonton.
WestCan Proton Therapy in Canada is setting to work on building the country’s first proton therapy center with an investment of approximately $120 million.

The Ben Stelter Centre for Proton Therapy and Neuroscience, named in honor of six-year-old cancer patient Ben Stelter, who died last year from brain cancer, will be located in Edmonton, Alberta, and will accept both adult and pediatric cancer patients from all parts of Canada. WestCan Proton Therapy is a new entity formed in Alberta for the sole purpose of creating the center.

Without a proton therapy facility, Canadian cancer patients have been forced to cross the border into the U.S. for treatment, incurring high travel costs and significant medical expenses as well as having to endure being away for long periods from their workplaces and families.

"The model will be the one most current when the facility is being built. The groundbreaking is expected in 2024 and as such, whatever is current in 2025/26," Ashif Mawji, chair of the Ben Stelter Foundation, told HCB News.

The Ben Stelter Foundation, formed after Ben’s death, will support the center by creating a public fund for patients in Alberta. Alongside this support is that of the Edmonton Oilers and the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn Medicine in Pennsylvania, which is currently treating Ben’s father, Mike, with proton therapy for his own spinal cancer battle.

Megin will be supplying imaging equipment for the facility, including its magnetoencephalography (MEG) platform, a supplement to MR, CT, and PET scans that provides real-time measurements of brain activity with no applied magnetic fields, radiation, or injections of any kind.

“We’re thrilled to share our experience from the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at Penn Medicine and look forward to the opportunity to build new collaborations with leading scientists at the University of Alberta through the Ben Stelter Proton Facility and Neuroscience Centre of Excellence,” said Dr. James Metz, chair of radiation oncology in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, in a statement.

Construction is expected to create over 250 jobs, and the center will include up to 100 permanent positions.

Workers will break ground on the facility this year, and it is expected to begin admitting patients in the first quarter of 2027.

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