OUHSC to be among first with new proton cancer therapy system
AT A GLANCE
Mevion S250 Proton Therapy system
When: Set for delivery in the fall
Where: Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center, OU Health Sciences Center in Oklahoma City
Source: Mevion Medical Systems
The Peggy and Charles Stephenson Cancer Center will be among the first in the world to offer a new proton therapy system next year on the OU Health Sciences Center campus in Oklahoma City.
The Mevion S250 Proton Therapy System provides the same non-invasive treatment as conventional proton therapy systems but at lower costs, said Jari Askins, director of Marketing and Outreach for the center.
The system delivers proton beams that physicians can use to treat cancerous tumors while leaving healthy tissue undamaged, according to Mevion. Adult and pediatric patients can be treated for several types of cancer, including brain cancer, lung cancer, gastrointestinal and prostate cancer, according to the Mevion website.
Mevion Medical Systems Inc., the company that makes and distributes the system, announced June 11 that the Food and Drug Administration gave 510(k) clearance for the system, according to a press release. This final clearance allows the center to begin treating patients as soon as the system is installed and ready, according to the website.
Askins said the system is still on track to be delivered early this fall.
The Siteman Cancer Center at Barnes Jewish Hospital and Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis received the first systems in October 2011, according to the website.
“Being on the cutting edge of medical technology is exciting and a hallmark of top academic-based, comprehensive cancer centers,” center director Robert Mannel said. “It means Oklahomans with cancer will soon have access to the absolute newest proton therapy technology.”
Proton therapy hasn’t been widely adopted due to the cost, technical complexity and sheer size of traditional proton therapy systems, according to the release.
The accelerators of older systems are up to a quarter mile long and are typically buried beneath parking lots, said Dr. Terence Herman, chairman of Radiation Oncology at OUHSC and medical oncologist. The new system’s accelerator is small enough that it can be housed under the treatment vault, he said.
“It’s not really new science — it’s the basic engineering that is a radicle departure,” Herman said.
The Mevion S250’s smaller size will help reduce its cost and carbon footprint, Askins said.
The existing ProCure Proton Therapy system installed in Oklahoma City cost around $120 million, Herman said. Herman said he couldn’t disclose the price of the Mevion S250, but he said the cost is far less than the ProCure system.
Since 2009, Oklahoma City has housed one of only three ProCure Proton Therapy centers in the nation, according to the ProCure website. Askins said a second proton therapy system will likely be an even greater draw to cancer patients.
Askins said because there are so few proton therapy systems, many people travel to use the current system in Oklahoma City.
“People already come from out of state for treatment,” Askins said. “And since Oklahoma is in the middle of the country, it’s easier to get to than flying from one coast to another.”