In 1990, the first proton treatment center (not exclusively a research facility) opened in California. Since that time the treatment has evolved to become even more precise through technological advances such as an isocentric gantry and pencil-beam scanning.
The Growth of Proton Beam Therapy Centers
McLaren Proton Therapy Center will obtain 360 degree beam delivery in each of their three treatment rooms through an isocentric gantry with 180 degree rotation and robotic patient positioning. With this method of delivery, the patient remains in a comfortable position on the treatment table and a gantry revolves 180 degrees around the patient. The treatment table is equipped with robotic positioning enabling dosage delivery with 0.5mm accuracy.
Pencil beam scanning video.
Each gantry at McLaren Proton Therapy Center will also have pencil-beam scanning. This feature works by scanning a focused beam of protons of variable intensity and energy (about a centimeter in diameter) over a tumor, depositing the radiation dose like precise brush strokes with less scatter than traditional proton therapy. The pencil beam scanning technology continues to build on the existing patient benefits associated with proton therapy.
Although proton therapy has been used to treat cancer in a clinical setting since 1990, the high cost of creating a proton therapy center has hindered the availability of proton treatment for cancer patients. The small number of proton therapy centers has also limited the amount of randomized research data published until recently.
Proton therapy has become more accessible to patients in the last decade. Ten of the eleven proton treatment centers in the United States have opened since 2001. At the beginning of 2013, there are an additional seven facilities, including McLaren Proton Therapy Center, under construction, although none of these in Michigan.