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Devices Oncology Hospitals & Healthcare Systems

 News Release - September 29, 2006

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to Develop First Proton-Beam Therapy Center in the Pacific Northwest

SEATTLE, Sept. 29 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance announced today it plans to develop a state-of-the-art proton-beam therapy center that will make this leading-edge form of radiation treatment available to patients in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.

The center will begin accepting patients in 2010. Only four proton-therapy centers are operating currently across the United States, the nearest in southern California.

"The SCCA Proton Therapy Center represents the future of radiation therapy in the Pacific Northwest," said Fred Appelbaum, M.D., SCCA executive director and president. "We are excited by the possibilities it offers, both for patients and research. It is a formidable new weapon we'll have to combat cancer."

Proton beams deliver precise doses of charged particles to tumors, thereby minimizing damage to surrounding healthy tissue. Unlike conventional photon- based (X-ray) radiation treatment, proton beams deliver more radiation precisely to the targeted tumor. Higher doses to tumors increase the likelihood that tumors will be killed. Proton beams are used today to treat many solid-tumor cancers such as those of the eye, skull base, head and neck, and prostate. However, the potential exists to treat many more types of tumors, including those of the lung, breast and abdomen, according to George Laramore, M.D., chairman of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Washington.

Researchers are particularly interested in the use of proton-beam therapy for children, who are more sensitive to the side effects of radiation than adults.

"At Children's Hospital we are very excited about the prospects of adding proton therapy to our arsenal of cancer-fighting treatments," said Tom Hansen, Children's president and CEO. "Children are more vulnerable to the side effects of conventional radiation, such as growth retardation and secondary tumors. Proton therapy will greatly diminish these concerns."

The proton-beam therapy center continues the tradition of successful partnership between members of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center and UW Medicine. All three institutions will be involved in the governance of the facility, which will be called the SCCA Proton Therapy Center (SPTC).

"The SCCA was formed to help accelerate the development of new cancer therapies and to broaden access to these therapies," said Norm HubBard, SCCA executive vice president. "The emergence of proton technology fits exactly with our mission and we're committed to creating this center as a resource for patients throughout the Pacific Northwest."

As one of the first steps to develop the facility, the SCCA has entered into an agreement with Proton Cancer Centers of America LLC to examine the financial, construction and operational issues of a proton beam center. Proton Cancer Centers of America specializes in developing proton-therapy centers using equipment manufactured by Hitachi Ltd. The new center is estimated to cost about $100 million and will be privately financed. Under a tentative timeline, groundbreaking will occur at the end of 2007 and the center will treat its first patients in late 2010.

In collaboration with NBBJ, a Seattle architectural firm, evaluation of sites is under way. NBBJ was the design architect for the proton facility at Loma Linda Medical Center in California. Initial design requirements call for a 60,000-square-foot building to house a single synchrotron particle accelerator, three treatment rooms, research laboratories and offices. The SPTC will have the capacity to treat about 1,200 patients a year.

About Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, established in 1998, unites the adult and pediatric cancer-care services of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center. A major focus of SCCA is to speed the transfer of new diagnostic and treatment techniques from the research setting to the patient bedside while providing premier, patient- focused cancer care. Patients who come to SCCA receive the latest research- based cancer therapies as well as cutting-edge treatments for a number of non- malignant diseases under development by its partner organizations. SCCA has three clinical-care sites: an outpatient clinic on the Fred Hutchinson campus, a pediatric-inpatient unit at Children's and an adult-inpatient unit at UW Medical Center. For more information about SCCA, visit www.seattlecca.org .


Source: Seattle Cancer Care Alliance

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