Washington, D.C., Area’s FIRST and ONLY Proton Therapy Center Lands its 15-ton Accelerator | MedStar Health

Washington, D.C., Area’s FIRST and ONLY Proton Therapy Center Lands Its 15-ton Accelerator

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The Heart of the New Cancer Fighting Tool—A 15-ton Proton Accelerator Arrives for Installation

Proton Beam

Washington, D.C., (February 13, 2016) -The construction of the Washington, D.C., area’s first and only Proton Therapy Center has reached an important milestone.  Today the MEVION S250 proton accelerator- the heart of the system that delivers proton therapy to cancer patients- arrived at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

The 15- ton superconducting synchrocyclotron, transported from Massachusetts on a flatbed truck, was carefully lowered by crane into its new and permanent home at MedStar Georgetown.

Proton therapy is a highly advanced form of radiation treatment that precisely targets and destroys cancer cells but spares healthy cells. This lowers the risk of side effects to patients, improves their cure rates and reduces the chances of secondary cancers arising later in life.

“We’re very excited to be one-step closer to offering this exciting new technology to our patients with cancer,” said Brian Collins, MD, a radiation oncologist at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital who was on-hand for the historic delivery. 

MedStar Georgetown will be one of only 13 centers in the United States to offer proton therapy.

“As one of just 46 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the United States to earn this designation by the National Cancer Institute, proton therapy was a natural progression for us in terms of caring for our patients with the latest technologies available,” said Dr. Collins who has worked extensively for more than a decade with another advanced radiation technology at MedStar Georgetown; CyberKnife.

“Having proton therapy opens up a whole new population of patients we can treat. Some types and stages of cancer respond better to CyberKnife; others respond better to protons. We are thrilled to offer patients in the Washington, D.C., area both options.”

Dr. Collins says proton therapy will be used for pediatric cancers as well as primary brain tumors. It will also play a role in treating lung, esophageal and head and neck cancers.

Proton therapy is FDA approved and is covered by Medicare and private insurance companies.

As an academic medical center, opportunities will be available at MedStar Georgetown for education, training and research.

With the proton accelerator now in place, the rest of the Proton Therapy Center will be built around it. The Proton Therapy Center at MedStar Georgetown will begin treating patients in about one year.