What is Proton Therapy

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State-of-the-Art Technology

State-of-the-Art Technology

State-of-the-Art technologies direct protons directly into the tumor.

The Cyclotron

The driving force behind proton therapy is the cyclotron. First, electricity is applied to hydrogen gas, causing the atoms to eject protons. The cyclotron then spins these protons at speeds of up to 223 million miles per hour. Magnets then guide a beam of protons from the cyclotron to the treatment rooms.

The Treatment Rooms

SCCA Proton Therapy offers different rooms customized to meet patient needs. The rooms include the fixed beam, inclined beam and gantry. The room selected for you will depend on your diagnosis and tumor location.
All treatment rooms feature a robotic patient-positioning system, which helps move patients into the exact position each time, ensuring precise delivery of therapy, while minimizing setup time for treatment. The positioning system received U.S. FDA clearance in April 2009 and was named rt image magazine's most valuable product in 2009.

Fixed-Beam Room

The fixed-beam room uses a horizontal proton beam that’s fixed in place. This system can target and treat the majority of tumors. Although the actual delivery system doesn’t move, the precision and effectiveness of the therapy is identical to that delivered by the inclined beam and the gantry.

Inclined Beam Room

We have two inclined-beam treatment rooms. The inclined beam is a relatively new technology that can treat approximately 80 percent of the tumors that traditionally required a gantry. This room contains two treatment beams: one positioned horizontally with the beam parallel to the floor, and one at a 60 degree incline from the horizontal.

The Gantry

In the gantry room, a 35-foot diameter wheel rotates 360° around the patient, giving our radiation oncologists tremendous flexibility in providing precision treatment. The gantry is particularly effective in treating hard-to-reach tumors, pediatric patients, and anyone who requires a unique course of therapy.

Imaging Equipment

Before the protons can be directed into the tumor, dosimetrists create treatment plans for each individual using RayStation. RayStation combines capabilities of traditional imaging such as CTs, PETs and MRIs, with contouring, collapsed cone convolution dose computation and 4D compatibility. RayStation also has unique features such as multi-criteria optimization, dose tracking, treatment adaptation and deformable registration. This specialized software helps to determine how much of a dose should be delivered to the tumor, whether more than one angle will be required, where exactly to deliver the dose, and how best to avoid healthy tissue. RayStation allows our physicians to model treatments and choose the most precise treatment scenario in real time.

Other facts about SCCA Proton Therapy:

  • The building is 57,000 square feet
  • Construction of the building required 13,000 cubic yards of concrete (45 ½ million lbs)
  • Within the concrete are 2 million lbs of rebar (reinforced steel)
  • The building contains 20 miles electrical conduit and 138 miles of wire (enough to go from Seattle to Mt. Rainier)
  • It contains 16 miles of fiber optics
  • The walls between treatment rooms are 5 feet of thick concrete
  • The walls around the cyclotron are 9 feet of concrete
  • The ceiling above the cyclotron is 12 feet of concrete
  • The cyclotron weighs 220 tons
  • The gantry weighs 110 tons and is 30 feet tall, although only 10 feet are visible.
  • The proton beam is around the size of a human hair