Construction Milestone: Gantry Installation Begins at Beaumont's Proton Therapy Center
ROYAL OAK, MI To workers constructing the new Proton Therapy Center at Beaumont Hospital's Cancer Institute in Royal Oak, Michigan, the arrival and installation of the gantry from Belgium is a "big deal." How big - about 100 tons. So heavy, it came across the ocean on a ship from Antwerp, and then it was delivered to Royal Oak from the Port of Cleveland on a special 190-foot, 19-axle tractor-trailer system.
It's also a big deal for moms like Cindy Davidson of Macomb, Michigan. Four years ago, her then six-year-old daughter, Lauren, was diagnosed with brain stem cancer. She was referred to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for proton treatments. The Davidsons traveled 2,000 miles round trip for a summer of lifesaving therapy. When Beaumont's center is complete in 2017, people from across Michigan, Ohio and Ontario will have close access to the state's first single-room proton cancer treatment facility.
Unlike larger, multi-room proton treatment facilities, Beaumont's smaller, compact, single-room treatment center is more affordable to build and maintain. It will feature state-of-the-art, image-guided technology to treat many cancers with a precise beam of protons.
"Young cancer patients, like Lauren, will benefit from this technology," said Craig Stevens, M.D., Ph.D., Chairman, Radiation Oncology, Beaumont Hospital, Grosse Pointe, Royal Oak and Troy. "Proton therapy is effective in treating certain types of pediatric cancers, as well as certain cancers diagnosed in adults. The Davidsons understand the value of having this technology so close to home."
"The ability of protons to deposit more energy directly into the tumor makes this an ideal treatment option for many patients, especially those with tumors close to vital organs," said Dr. Stevens. "For children, those most vulnerable and susceptible to the damage of traditional radiation therapy, proton therapy offers less radiation exposure and fewer side effects."
Proton therapy is a high-tech alternative to X-ray radiation. A scanning beam of proton radiation with online image guidance offers greater precision to destroy cancerous cells, sparing adjacent healthy tissue and reducing treatment side effects.
"Our center will offer the best technology available for this advanced cancer treatment," said Dr. Stevens. "We will have the ability to potentially cure patients that have failed conventional treatment at other centers."
In February 2015, construction began on the $40 million Proton Therapy Center at Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak. The two-story building is 25,200-square-feet, including a basement. The first floor will house the Proton Therapy Center. This 10,000-square-foot space will include a cyclotron and gantry that produces and delivers proton beams to a single-room treatment area. The first patients will be treated in the spring of 2017. The 8,000-square-foot second floor will be the future home of Beaumont Children's Pediatric Oncology and Hematology program.
Proton therapy uses high-speed protons to fight cancer by aiming a high-energy ionizing beam at the tumor, destroying its cells. A cyclotron, or particle accelerator, creates protons from hydrogen molecules spun at extremely high speeds. They travel up to two-thirds the speed of light. The proton beam is sent to a treatment room through a transport system consisting of magnets, called the beam line, finally arriving in the gantry. The gantry is a device that rotates around the patient delivering a beam of protons. The beam is directed to the patient through a nozzle that targets the tumor.
Beaumont chose Ion Beam Applications of Belgium, also known as IBA, to manufacture, install and maintain the proton system. An Atlanta-based proton therapy development group, Proton International, is also lending their expertise. Presently, there are 22 active proton therapy centers in the U.S. and about 36 worldwide.
As someone who grew up close to Beaumont, Beth Klein, president of IBA Proton Therapy North America shared; "IBA is particularly pleased to partner with the team at Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak to provide this powerful new treatment to cancer patients in Michigan and surrounding states. By being the first to provide access to this technology in Southeastern Michigan, Beaumont continues to set itself apart through their commitment to quality of care for their patients."
"Our IBA ProteusOne single-room treatment system will include precision technologies," said Dr. Stevens. "Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy, which combines Pencil Beam Scanning and 3-D Cone Beam CT, can target a tumor within less than a millimeter."
Pencil Beam Scanning refers to the delivery of protons in a thin beam. Like a pencil, the beam uses back and forth motions to target the treatment area - the shape, size and depth. It "paints" a radiation dose on tumors layer by layer.
Radiation oncologists at Beaumont are well versed in precise image guidance, having developed cone beam CT technology almost 20 years ago. It allows doctors to analyze soft tissue and bone contrast to see tumor changes.