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Cyclotron Arrival: A Construction Milestone for the Maryland Proton Treatment Center

Monday, June 16, 2014

The $200 million Maryland Proton Treatment Center is a step closer to completion, now that the cyclotron has arrived at the construction site at the University of Maryland BioPark in West Baltimore. Made of iron, the cyclotron is a 90-ton particle accelerator that will produce a beam of protons used to treat cancer patients. The beam can be used to precisely target tumors while dramatically reducing radiation exposure to surrounding tissue.

The cyclotron arrived at the Port of Baltimore and was driven in a special vehicle to the construction site, where a giant crane was erected to hoist the cyclotron high enough for it to be lowered into the building through the ceiling. The center is being developed in a partnership between the University of Maryland School of Medicine and San Diego-based Advanced Particle Therapy (APT).

Video: Cyclotron installation:

Video: What is the cyclotron and how does it make proton therapy possible?

The University of Maryland School of Medicine and its Department of Radiation Oncology will operate the 110,00 square foot proton therapy center, which will bring this advanced radiation technology to Maryland for the first time. Proton therapy is an advanced technology approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and reimbursed by both Medicare and private insurance. The therapy has been used to treat nearly 70,000 patients worldwide since its inception in the 1950s, according to Advanced Particle Therapy.

The technology for this therapy continues to evolve, which will allow for its expanded use in treating cancer patients worldwide. The non-invasive, outpatient therapy requires patients to receive about 30 treatments over a five to six week period. Treatments last approximately 20-25 minutes each day for five to six days a week. After each appointment, patients are able to leave the center and resume normal activities.

The technology uses a proton beam to deliver radiation more precisely to the tumor site than with standard x-ray radiation. Proton beam therapy provides treatment for many common and some rare cancers. This treatment option dramatically reduces the radiation exposure to the areas of the body in the path of the radiation beam. Children are a prime example of this issue, as they are particularly at-risk for the traditional side effects commonly expected from conventional radiation.

The Maryland Proton Treatment Center is scheduled to open in 2015.

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