Scripps announces plans for proton therapy center
Scripps Health on Tuesday announced plans to team up with a Nevada company to open the first patient care facility in San Diego County to offer advanced proton therapy to cancer patients.
Groundbreaking for the $185 million Scripps Proton Therapy Center is expected in July 2010 and the facility is expected to be open for patient care by spring 2013. It will be built through a partnership among Scripps Health, Scripps Clinic Medical Group and Advanced Particle Therapy (APT), LLC of Minden, Nev.
The 102,000-square-foot center will have the capacity to treat approximately 2,400 patients annually. It will be built on a seven-acre site in the Carroll Canyon area of Mira Mesa, at 9577 Summers Ridge Road. It will be just the second proton therapy center in California and the Western United States, and is expected to attract patients from across the West.
For certain cancers, proton therapy offers a more precise and aggressive approach to destroying cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, compared to conventional X-ray radiation. Proton therapy involves the use of a controlled beam of protons to target tumors with control and precision unavailable in other radiation therapies. The precise delivery of proton energy limits damage to healthy surrounding tissue, resulting in minimal or no side effects to the patient. This precision also allows for a more potent and effective dose of radiation to be used.
“Scripps is excited to help provide access to one of science’s most sophisticated weapons against cancer,” said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder. “This will be an immensely valuable resource for all of San Diego County and beyond. We see this as a major step forward, allowing us to provide the most comprehensive range of radiation therapy options available today.”
The new facility will include five treatment rooms, three of which will include gantries, which are rotational machines designed to deliver the therapeutic beam at the precise angle prescribed by the physician. The other two treatment rooms will have fixed-beam machines. The center will also offer MRI and CT scan diagnostic services in support of proton therapy; 16 patient exam rooms; and offices for 14 physicians.
There are currently seven proton therapy patient treatment centers in the United States.They are located in Loma Linda (opened 1990); Boston (opened 2002); Bloomington, Ind. (opened 2004); Houston, (opened 2006); Jacksonville, Fla. (opened 2006); Oklahoma City, (opened 2009); and Philadelphia (opened 2009).
Patients will be able to access this treatment through a referral to a specialist credentialed by the Scripps Proton Therapy Center. Proton therapy has an established history of reimbursement by Medicare and private healthcare payers.
“Our intent is to provide broad access to cancer patients throughout the region,” said Dr. Robert Sarnoff, president of Scripps Clinic Medical Group. “Scripps Clinic’s radiation oncology specialists are national leaders in the field who bring extensive knowledge and experience to our medical management of this additional tool to treat cancer.”
A non-invasive treatment, proton beam therapy is usually performed on an outpatient basis and is considered most effective on solid, deep-seated tumors that are localized and have not spread to distant areas of the body.
Scripps Health will provide clinical management services to the center, and Scripps Clinic Medical Group will oversee the medical services. APT has arranged financing to build the center and purchase the proton therapy equipment from Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, Calif. Additionally, APT will manage and maintain the building and equipment. The architect for the center is Haskell Design Build of Jacksonville, Fla.
Varian will equip the facility with a fully integrated proton therapy system. The center’s superconducting cyclotron will feature pencil-beam (or spot) scanning, which allows for modulation of the proton beam’s intensity. This allows doctors to precisely shape the dose distribution to concentrate on the targeted tumor while sparing normal healthy tissue.
“With only seven proton treatment centers operating in the United States, we are honored to work with Scripps to provide a state-of-the-art facility that will treat patients from San Diego and beyond,” said Jeff Bordok, president and CEO of Advanced Particle Therapy, LLC.
Nearly 70,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at centers in Europe, Asia and the United States. Patients typically receive approximately 30 treatments during a four- to six-week period. Each treatment lasts for approximately 15-25 minutes, after which the patient is free to carry on with daily affairs.