Proton Therapy Offers Greater Accuracy with Fewer Adverse Side Affects
St. Louis Children's Hospital will soon be offering a type of radiation treatment available at only a handful of centers nationwide. The S. Lee Kling Center for Proton Therapy is set to open in November on the Washington University Medical Center campus, providing a more powerful and accurate tool that produces fewer adverse side effects.
Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy used to shrink tumors near vital organs. "Protons allow us to target tumors with greater precision because we can adjust the depth of the radiation," says radiation oncologist Jeffrey Bradley, MD, director of the Kling Center. "We then avoid a dose that exposes other organs and healthy tissue."
When it opens in late 2012, the Kling Center will treat about 25 patients a day, primarily children and adults with brain tumors or cancers of the skull base, head and neck area, spinal cord and eye.
The Kling Center will be the first in the country to house a new type of cyclotron, a particle accelerator, for delivering proton therapy. The single-room, compact system fits into a space not much bigger than what's needed to house traditional radiation equipment and costs about $25 million -- a fraction of the $100 to $200 million cost of building traditional facilities, which require football field-sized buildings with several rooms for patient treatment.
"With the addition of proton therapy, patients at Children's will have access to cutting edge technology in radiation therapy to add to its already vast repertoire of novel cancer therapies," says Robert Hayashi, MD, Director of Pediatric Hematology/Oncology. "This will solidify our stature as one of the leading pediatric cancer centers in the country"