The region’s first cyclotron — the equipment that will be driving force behind the Scripps Proton Therapy Center — was installed last week on a site in the Carroll Canyon area of Mira Mesa at 9577 Summers Ridge Road.
While it is the first to arrive in San Diego, the UCSD Moores Cancer Center is also developing a proton therapy and research center.
Manufactured by Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, Scripps’ 90-ton cyclotron is about the same weight as a fully loaded 737 jetliner, but just 6-feet-high and 9-feet-wide, according to a Scripps Health press release. It was lifted in two sections with a special crane usually used to move heavy industrial equipment.
“The cyclotron’s job is to accelerate protons to extremely fast speeds — roughly 100,000 miles per second or 0.61 times the speed of light— to create a beam that can precisely reach tumors, even if deeply seated and located near critical organs,” the release notes. “These beams can also be shaped in three dimensions to avoid surrounding healthy tissues, targeting tumors with unprecedented accuracy.”