Proton Therapy Offers Greater Accuracy with Fewer Adverse Side Effects
The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center soon will 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 within a year on Siteman’s main campus at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, providing a more powerful and accurate tool that produces fewer adverse side effects.
“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, 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 center also will offer new therapies for lung, abdominal, prostate and other cancers.
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 Siteman will have access to every type of radiation oncology treatment available,” Bradley says. “They will get the best care here—as good as they could get anywhere in the world.”