Three prostate cancer patients were among the first to receive proton therapy in the state of Tennessee on January 20. Provision Center for Proton Therapy, located in Knoxville, treated its first patients with this revolutionary and accurate cancer treatment available at only in a handful of cities in the U.S. It is one of only 14 in the nation and 46 in the world. The center is opening less than two years after breaking ground in April 2012. A 220-ton cyclotron, a particle accelerator that produces protons, was installed a year ago in January 2013 at the center, which sits on the 120-acre comprehensive outpatient medical campus at Dowell Springs in Knoxville.
Two Knoxvillians and one patient from North Carolina underwent proton therapy at the Dowell Springs campus at Tennessee’s first and only proton therapy facility. Joe Hamby from Knoxville was one of the three patients to undergo the non-invasive and precise treatment. “I researched it and knew I wanted proton therapy,” said Hamby. “I initially planned on going to another proton center 500 miles away until I learned there was one right in my backyard. It’s a blessing to have Provision Center for Proton Therapy right here in our community.”
Proton therapy, the most advanced form of radiotherapy in the world, uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer, such as prostate, pediatric, sarcoma, brain, lung, and breast cancers. Different from conventional radiation therapy — in which beam energy dissipates as it passes through the body — proton beams can be fine-tuned with millimeters of accuracy to deliver maximum energy within the controlled range of the cancerous tumor.
Treatment plans will range from 20 – 40 treatments depending on the stage of the cancer. Low to intermediate risk patients will receive 20 treatments over a four-week period. This schedule will result in fewer side effects and will cost less than conventional radiation.
“The treatment of our first patients is such a significant milestone,” said Mary Lou DuBois, President of Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “We are blessed and honored to see our vision come full-circle. This wouldn’t have been possible without the passionate dedication and teamwork from all the facility, administrative and clinical staff. Our mission is to provide our community and this region with the most compassionate and effective cancer treatment available today.”
Medical Director Marcio Fagundes, M.D., performed each of the treatments. A board-certified radiation oncologist, Dr. Fagundes has been involved with protons since the early 1990s. He first became interested in proton therapy during his internship and residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had the opportunity to guest intern at Harvard University.
Provision’s “Culture of Care” will extend beyond service with a mission to respect the dignity of the human person, preserve quality of life and includes a dedicated Hospitality Team with full concierge service to engage the community and serve patient needs. The Culture of Care program will be a distinguishing feature of the Center, along with an innovative team that will challenge the status quo for the betterment of patients through care, research, technology and cancer treatment.
Board member and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton can be seen in a local television commercial promoting the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. These spots will air during the Winter Olympics in February and throughout the year.
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