September 2, 2015

Robert Wood Johnson Hospital Now Offers Proton Therapy

rwjuhRobert Wood Johnson University Hospital (RWJ) has announced the arrival of the Laurie Proton Therapy Center, the first proton beam radiation treatment center of its kind in the New Jersey and New York region. The arrival of proton beam radiation therapy on RWJ’s academic medical campus in New Brunswick represents an advance in the range of cancer treatment options that are currently available to New Jersey and New York residents.

Proton Therapy is now part of a comprehensive range of advanced cancer treatment options offered by RWJ in partnership with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey (CINJ), Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and private physicians in the community. RWJ New Brunswick is the flagship Cancer Hospital of Rutgers CINJ.

The process provides targeted treatment to cancer cells and causes less damage to surrounding healthy tissues than photon radiation, making it an ideal option for pediatric and adult patients with tumors in sensitive locations, such as near the heart, brain and spine.

Traditionally, proton therapy systems have had a footprint larger than a football field and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and operate. But the traditional model is not financially or spatially accessible for the large majority of cancer treatment sites, which can limit access to this important advance in cancer treatment. Manufactured by Mevion Medical Systems, The MEVION S250 size is 75 percent smaller, uses 90 percent less energy, and has significantly lower capital and operating costs than traditional systems.

Proton therapy is the most precise and advanced form of radiation treatment today. It primarily radiates the tumor site, leaving surrounding healthy tissue and organs intact. Conventional X-ray radiation often radiates healthy tissue in its path and surrounding the tumor site. Chemotherapy moves throughout the entire body, unlike radiation and surgery which are considered “site-specific” treatments.

“The MEVION S250 provides RWJUH with a compact, high-quality delivery system to include in our suite of patient treatment options,” said Bruce Haffty, M.D., Chief of Radiation Oncology at RWJ and professor and chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and New Jersey Medical School at Rutgers University. “This is an important milestone in cancer therapy for patients in this region. We can now treat patients with a very targeted form of radiation therapy in less time and with fewer side effects.”

Patients typically experience minimal to no side effects from proton therapy, compared to conventional forms of radiation, and it is more easily tolerated than standard radiation therapy. It is most appropriate for tumors that are localized and have not spread to distant areas of the body, and it typically takes anywhere from one to seven weeks, depending on the tumor site.

A 40-year-old patient with spinal myxopapillary ependymoma, a form of cancer affecting the spinal cord, recently became the first patient to begin proton therapy treatment at RWJ.

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