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Siteman Cancer Center to Offer New Proton Beam Therapy Center in 2008

June 16, 2006 – The Alvin J. Siteman Cancer Center, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine are taking the first step in offering a revolutionary way to treat cancer patients who need radiation therapy. 

On June 7, Barnes-Jewish Hospital submitted a letter of intent to file a certificate of need (CON) with the Missouri Health Facilities Review Committee. When approved, Barnes-Jewish Hospital will spend approximately $20 million to be the first in the country to offer a new generation proton beam – the Clinatron 250 Proton Beam Radiotherapy System™ – at the Siteman Cancer Center in late 2008.

The system would be housed in a proposed site across Euclid Ave. at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine’s Center for Advanced Medicine. It would allow for street access to a new Proton Beam Therapy Center, proposed to be located in shell space between the Parkway Hotel and the Center for Advanced Medicine’s North Garage.

Proton beam therapy is exciting to physicians, who say it offers patients with certain types of cancers dramatically better outcomes than they experience today.

“This technology is unique because it allows us to target tumors with precision by adjusting the depth of the radiation and avoiding a collateral dose that would expose other organs,” says Simon Powell, MD, chief of radiation oncology at the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine.

According to Powell, the center should treat 250 patients per year. One-third of those patients would be pediatric, another third would be patients suffering from cancer in the central nervous system and the final third would offer patients new therapies for lung, prostate and abdominal cancers.

“This therapy will allow us to offer new ways to treat many types of cancers,” says Powell.

For example, precision in radiation therapy is important when treating growing children. “A child may have a tumor on their spine and we can avoid exposing other areas of their body to radiation,” says Powell. “This technology reduces the risk of growth defects in vital organs of the body.”

Proton beam therapy is currently available at only a handful of centers nationally. These machines cost up to $120 million to implement and require a large facility for clinical operations.

However, this new machine at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Siteman Cancer Center – which is smaller and will stand in its own vault in the Proton Beam Therapy Center – will be the first in the nation of its kind. A development partnership has been established with Still River Systems Inc. of Littleton, MA, who will build the proton beam unit on-site.

When this new initiative is completed, it will add another dimension to the comprehensive nature of the Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine, the only National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in Missouri and within a 240-mile radius of St. Louis. Siteman is also one of only 20 national members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, an alliance of the world’s leading cancer centers dedicated to improving the quality, effectiveness and efficiency of oncology practice so patients can live better lives.