A pioneer in radiation oncology and cancer care, MD Anderson has paved the way for more effective radiation therapy around the world. Our Proton Therapy Center is an international center of excellence for proton therapy, research and education. It is the world’s first proton therapy facility located within a comprehensive cancer center. In fact, MD Anderson has been ranked one of the nation’s top two hospitals for cancer care by U.S. News & World Report every year since 1990.
Our world-renowned cancer experts bring a wealth of experience and knowledge in helping patients triumph over cancer, and that expertise also exists in using proton therapy radiation as a tool to help our patients fight – and beat – cancer.
A team approach
At the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, our highly skilled and experienced cancer care team includes radiation oncologists, pediatric radiation oncologists, research nurses, registered nurses, radiation therapists, medical dosimetrists, physicists and other cancer professionals who work to provide an individualized treatment plan for each patient’s cancer. In many cases, our cancer specialists work hand-in-hand with other centers within MD Anderson to give patients the full benefit of the resources of one of the nation's top-ranked cancer centers.
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center unveiled plans to expand its Proton Therapy Center during a groundbreaking ceremony. The expansion will more than double the center’s size to more than 160,000 square feet – almost the size of three football fields – allowing more patients greater access to the most advanced and precise form of radiation therapy.
The estimated completion of the new building is Nov. 2023. The $159 million expansion will be led by Gilbane Building Company and will increase the center size to include a total of eight radiation therapy machines that rotate 360 degrees around a patient to deliver a proton beam to the exact area intended for treatment. The new machines, developed by Hitachi, will deliver intensity-modulated proton therapy, the most precise form of image-guided radiation therapy available. The expansion also will include an additional synchrotron, the massive accelerator that creates the proton beam, as well as rooms with improved design for a better patient experience.
“For over a decade, MD Anderson has led the world in the field of proton therapy,” said Peter WT Pisters, M.D., president. “Our physicians and international cancer experts continue to push the boundaries to provide the most innovative care to our patients, and now we are working to provide increased access to that care so even more people can potentially benefit from this important treatment option.”
Proton therapy is an advanced type of radiation treatment that uses a beam of protons to deliver radiation directly to the tumor, destroying cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue. Protons enter the body with a low radiation dose, stop at the tumor, match its shape and volume or depth, and deposit the bulk of their cancer-fighting energy precisely at the tumor.
This therapy currently is used to treat a number of cancers in adult and pediatric patients, including prostate, lung, head and neck, liver, esophagus, brain and lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system.
“This expansion is critical for patients who need access to proton therapy,” said Steven J. Frank, M.D., medical director of the Proton Therapy Center. “Our center has been operating at capacity, treating patients 20 hours a day, five days a week. Doubling our size will mean not only that we can treat more patients, but that we can do so using the very latest technology while achieving remarkable efficiency.”
Since opening in 2006, MD Anderson’s Proton Therapy Center has treated more than 9,300 patients from the United States and across the world within its current 73,500-square-foot facility. In 2018, MD Anderson treated 819 patients with proton therapy, a nearly 11% increase from 2017. Currently, 38% of patients are treated for head and neck cancers, but the center also sees numerous patients for prostate, lung, liver and brain cancers, as well as a range of pediatric cancers.
“As more patients become eligible for proton therapy, we want to make sure that those who need access to protons have the opportunity to receive them,” said Pisters. “This expansion will aid us in our efforts to provide the most-effective treatment for each patient, based on their specific disease.”
Advanced treatment in a caring environment
The MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center is home to some of the most sophisticated, high-tech equipment available – all used to deliver powerful, precise proton therapy treatment to our patients.
Within our 96,000-square-feet of space, the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center houses four treatment rooms that include one fixed beam room and three equipped with gantries. Each gantry is three stories tall, 35 feet in diameter, weighs 190 tons and rotates around a patient to direct the proton beam precisely at the cancerous tumor.
The center also includes clinical space and examination rooms for consultations and patient visits, anesthesiology work areas, holding and recovery areas, medical dosimetry areas for treatment planning and other areas specifically related to the care, treatment, education and research of proton technology. Additionally, the Proton Therapy Center has a dedicated, on-site machine shop that produces the apertures and other pieces needed to precisely and effectively deliver proton therapy to our patients.
All of this is conveniently located just south of the main Texas Medical Center. Patients and their families are able to drive right up and enjoy free parking in the surface lot in front of the building.
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