May 17, 2013 — New hope for cancer patients is building in North Texas as construction begins on the $105 million Texas Center for Proton Therapy, the first proton therapy center in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. The center, spearheaded by healthcare leaders Texas Oncology, The U.S. Oncology Network and McKesson Specialty Health, will have capacity to treat more than 100 patients per day when it opens in 2016.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation treatment that delivers precisely targeted radiation to tumors, minimizing side effects and damage to surrounding healthy tissue, which helps patients maintain quality of life during and after treatment.
“At Texas Oncology, we believe that our patients and physicians deserve access to a full range of treatment options, including advanced proton therapy,” said Steven Paulson, chairman and president of Texas Oncology. “Bringing this innovative technology to patients here is an important step forward in cancer care in North Texas and offers hope that more people will survive their disease.”
Dedicated to patients
Highlighting the essential role of community support in fighting cancer, more than 50 people — patients, survivors, members of the healthcare community and city leaders — gathered to dedicate the site to current and future cancer survivors. After breaking ground, project leaders and several cancer survivors unveiled and signed a 7-foot ‘HOPE Wall’ inscribed with words of encouragement for cancer patients. Over the course of construction, others will be invited to add expressions of hope and inspiration to the artwork, which later will be installed in the center’s community room.
Those participating in the dedication included Bruce Feiler, New York Times columnist, cancer survivor and best-selling author of “The Council of Dads.”
“The ‘council of dads’ idea was my way of asking my friends to be a personal circle of support for my young children following my cancer diagnosis,” said Feiler. “Treating and surviving cancer ultimately is a shared, community endeavor, for families as well as the broader healthcare community — as represented on a large, impactful scale in the proton therapy center project here in North Texas.”
Deep expertise in proton therapy
Gary Barlow, who previously was technical director at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, has been named director of the Texas Center for Proton Therapy. Barlow brings more than 25 years of experience in radiation therapy management. Barlow’s vision for ensuring the patient experience is as positive and supportive as the treatment itself includes plans for a full range of concierge services, combined with focused therapeutic activities for patients, families and caregivers.
“We’ll surround our patients in a community of care as we deliver this technologically advanced treatment,” Barlow said, adding that the technology is an important new tool for physicians who depend on a wide range of treatment options to help patients fight cancer. “The promise of proton therapy is particularly meaningful for our youngest patients and those with tumors in sensitive areas such as eyes where precision is especially important.”
Designed by RTKL Associates and to be built by Linbeck Group, LLC, the 63,000-square-foot facility will be located in Irving-Las Colinas off Royal Lane at the George Bush Turnpike. Housing the technologically complex proton radiation equipment will require more than 20 miles of electrical conduit and 14,500 cubic yards of concrete.
Equipment from IBA (Ion Beam Applications S.A.) will include a 220-ton cyclotron, a massive magnet-packed particle accelerator. The center will have a fixed beam treatment room, as well as two isocentric gantry treatment rooms, each containing a 30-foot tall, 110-ton machine that rotates to enable pinpoint accuracy in treating tumors. The center also will include the newest positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scanning and imaging technology, as well as on-site laboratory services. When complete in early 2016, the facility is expected to be one of approximately 23 proton therapy treatment centers in the United States.
Advancing cancer care in Texas
Each year more than 100,000 Texans are diagnosed with cancer. Adding proton therapy as a treatment option complements the existing array of advanced cancer care choices in the region.