Scripps Health starts work on proton therapy center

By City News Service

Work officially began Thursday on a $185 million proton therapy center in Mira Mesa to treat cancer patients.

The 102,000-square-foot center, which is being built by Scripps Health and Nevada-based Advanced Particle Therapy, will be able to treat 2,400 patients annually when it opens in the spring of 2013.

The facility, which will have five treatment rooms, MRI and CT scan diagnostic equipment, patient exam rooms and offices, is being built on a 7-acre site in the Carroll Canyon area of Mira Mesa.

Also housed there will be a 90-ton cyclotron, which accelerates protons to extremely fast speeds, creating a beam that can reach tumors that are 14 inches inside a body, according to Scripps Health.

Proton therapy involves the use of a controlled beam of protons to target cancer tumors. Scripps Health officials said the process is a more precise and aggressive approach to destroying cancerous tumors, compared to conventional X-ray radiation, and limits the amount of damage to healthy surrounding tissue.

The Scripps Proton Therapy Center will be the second of its kind in the Western United States. The other is located at Loma Linda University Medical Center in San Bernardino County.