OKLAHOMA CITY –Children with cancer are now being accepted for treatment at the ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City, where a wide range of tumors are treated with proton therapy, an alternative to X-ray radiation that spares healthy tissue and results in far fewer short- and long-term treatment side effects.
According to the American Cancer Society, cancer is the leading cause of nonaccidental death in children. In 2009, more than 10,000 new childhood cancer cases were diagnosed in children up to age 14, and nearly 1,400 deaths were attributed to the disease.
“Proton therapy is a particularly important treatment option for children who experience more serious short- and long-term side effects from X-ray radiation than adults,” said W.C. Goad, M.D., medical director of the center and a founder of Radiation Medicine Associates (RMA), the radiation oncology practice that provides clinical care at the center. “Since their bodies are still growing, children are more sensitive to the damage to healthy tissue caused by X-rays.”
Clinical studies suggest that proton therapy reduces the risk of growth and developmental problems, as well as results in fewer recurring or secondary tumors.
“The very good news is that many children diagnosed with cancer survive and thrive thanks to the advances in treatment,” said Dr. Goad. “We need to do all we can to take measures that cut down on side effects so they have not only a long life but an excellent quality of life.”
“When we heard about the benefits of proton therapy, we knew it was the right treatment,” said Susan Ralston, founder of the Pediatric Proton Foundation and mother of Jacob, who was treated with proton therapy at the Proton Therapy Center at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in 2007. “What parent wouldn’t want to give their child the opportunity to not only beat their cancer, but to limit the amount of radiation they are exposed to so they have the opportunity to grow up tall, achieve a 4.0 on their report card and live a happy, healthy life.”
“Providing children with greater access to proton therapy is at the very core of ProCure’s mission,” said John Cameron, Ph.D., founder and president of ProCure Treatment Centers, Inc., which also has a center under construction in suburban Chicago and four others in development. “We plan to keep building centers until every child and every adult who could benefit from proton therapy has access to this important treatment option.”
The Oklahoma City center opened in July 2009 and is treating patients diagnosed with a broad range of tumor types, including head and neck, brain, central nervous system, prostate, lung, sarcoma, gastrointestinal and many pediatric cancers The precision of proton therapy makes it especially effective for anatomically complex tumors such as base of skull and tumors along the spinal cord. With two treatment rooms now open and two more opening in the next few months, the center will be operating at full capacity by summer, treating up to 1,500 patients a year.
The center has an affiliation with INTEGRIS Health, the state’s largest hospital system. INTEGRIS’s new, state-of-the art Cancer Institute of Oklahoma, located adjacent to the ProCure Proton Therapy Center, provides patients with additional medical services that they may need while undergoing proton therapy.
The ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City is the sixth center in the country to provide proton therapy and the first in ProCure’s network of centers to provide this advanced radiation therapy to patients with cancer. Construction is running on schedule with the ProCure facility in suburbanChicago, and ProCure has centers in development in Seattle, Detroit, South Florida and Somerset, New Jersey.