Korea’s First Proton Therapy Center Opens to Cancer Patients
Doctors at the National Cancer Center (NCC) of Korea are now employing proton beams in their war against cancer using a newly installed $38 million proton therapy system from IBA.
The first patient at the $51 million NCC Proton Therapy Center was treated for prostate cancer. More than 900 patients a year are expected to be treated at the proton therapy center for breast cancer, pediatric cancer, liver cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer and prostate cancer. The only facility of its kind in Korea, NCC Proton Therapy Center is located in Ilsan, north of Seoul.
IBA’s three-treatment-room proton therapy system was installed and operational in about 20 months. It includes two gantry-housed proton therapy units and one fixed-beam unit. A gantry is a massive 90-ton rotational frame that delivers a prescribed dose of protons at precise angles in the body to maximize tumor destruction and minimize radiation-related side effects for the patient.
“IBA has been an extraordinary partner to NCC Korea,” said Kwan Ho Cho, M.D., director of the proton therapy center. “IBA installed a first-rate system and provided design and construction expertise to ensure proper alignment and operation.”
Up until now, cancer patients in need of proton therapy had to travel to Japan for treatment. In 2002, the Health and Welfare Ministry committed to constructing a proton therapy center. It is a key component in Korea’s 10-year plan to improve cancer outcomes.
“NCC Korea is playing essential roles as the national center in the fight against cancer through research, medical care, support for national cancer control programs, education and training,” Dr. Cho added. “It is now able to provide state-of-the art radiotherapy for cancer patients including proton beam therapy, image-guided radiotherapy (tomotherapy), intensity modulated radiotherapy and three-dimensional conformal brachytherapy.”
Construction of the 14-story, 323,000-square-foot facility began in July 2003. The building also houses the Center for Cancer Prevention and Detection.
The Korea installation occurred at the same time IBA was helping construct a proton therapy facility in Jacksonville, Fla. The 98,000-square-foot University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute opened in August 2006. The $125 million facility is part of the University of Florida Shands Cancer Center and includes three of IBA’s gantry-housed proton therapy units and one fixed-beam unit.
“This stands as the first time that a single manufacturer has developed two proton therapy facilities in parallel,” said Pierre Mottet, chief executive officer of IBA, “readying them for clinical use in record time. As the undisputed world market leader in particle therapy with more than 50 percent market share, IBA is doubling the current annual production rate for particle therapy systems to meet growing demand, and we have already improved installation cycle times so we can help develop centers simultaneously — and faster.”
Proton therapy is the most precise form of radiation therapy available. It delivers nearly all its destructive energy to a malignant tumor with pinpoint accuracy, leaving surrounding tissue unharmed and reducing treatment-related adverse events.
It is a favored approach for treating certain kinds of tumors where conventional X-ray and radiation oncology would damage surrounding tissues at an unacceptable level. Prevention of collateral damage of healthy tissue is especially critical when treating optic nerves, the spinal cord and central nervous system, head and neck areas, and the prostate. Proton therapy’s precision and sharp distal fall-off also averts the long-term side effects experienced by many pediatric patients following conventional radiotherapy.
IBA is currently overseeing construction of the 75,000-square-foot Roberts Proton Therapy Center at the Abramson Cancer Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The $144 million project is the largest proton therapy center ever developed. It will include IBA’s proton-generating cyclotron and proton beam equipment for four gantry-based patient treatment rooms, one fixed-beam patient room and a separate research room. The most advanced nozzle technologies and patient positioning options also will be installed.
The company will build a $50 million proton therapy system at the Oklahoma ProCure Treatment Center in Oklahoma City. Construction of the 55,000-square-foot facility began in April 2007. It will house four patient treatment rooms, including two inclined-beam rooms, one fixed-horizontal-beam room and a gantry room. The first cancer patient is expected to be treated at the ProCure proton therapy center in the summer of 2009.
Twelve institutions in the United States, Asia and Europe have already selected a proton therapy system from IBA. The IBA particle therapy product line ranges from small, one-room compact systems to top-of-the-line carbon configurations. IBA is the only company that has regulatory clearances, including FDA clearance to market cyclotron-based particle therapy systems.
IBA delivers solutions of a unique precision in the fields of cancer diagnosis and therapy. The company also offers sterilization and ionization solutions to improve the hygiene and safety of everyday life. IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.: Reuters IOBAt.BR and Bloomberg IBAB.BB) is listed on the pan-European stock exchange EURONEXT, is integrated into the NextEconomy market segment and belongs to the BelMid index. IBA world headquarters is located in Brussels. The Americas’ headquarters for IBA Particle Therapy is in Jacksonville, Fla.