Myth #9: If protons were so good, then [fill in the name of prestigious institution] would have a proton center.

This is absolutely true. If proton therapy is as good as we say it is then the most prestigious medical institutions in the world, like Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Memorial Sloan Kettering, MD Anderson, and others would have them.

But wait … they do! Or they soon will.

Only One Center When BOB founder, Bob Marckini, Was Treated

When Bob Marckini was treated in 2000, there was only one proton center in the United States. Loma Linda University Medical Center took a huge risk investing tens of millions of dollars in a technology that had never been tried in a hospital setting. Particle accelerators existed, but they were city blocks in size, and none of the supporting equipment and systems had been invented: Imaging, beam delivery, beam focusing, treatment gantries, etc. All this had to be designed and built from scratch. The rest, of course is history. The first proton treatment center, LLUMC, opened in 1990, and since then, ten more have been constructed in the U.S. with 19 more in the construction or development stage, and there are several more in Europe and Asia. More than 90,000 patients have been treated with protons.

You Can’t Argue With the Laws of Nature

The laws of physics cannot be refuted. Proton particles destroy cancer using the same mechanism as X-rays, but that’s where the similarity ends. With X-rays, most of the radiation is deposited on healthy tissue. With protons, it’s just the opposite. Three times less radiation is deposited on healthy tissues with proton therapy.

If all this is true, then why aren’t there proton treatment centers in all hospital? The answer is cost. The cost to build a proton center today is $150 to $200 million. And the cost to operate a proton center is also high. Not too many hospitals can afford this, and few hospital boards are willing to approve expenditures at that level. But this is changing.

Some medical centers that are operating with older radiation technologies criticize proton therapy on the basis that it costs more, but has never been “proven” to be superior to conventional radiation techniques when treating prostate cancer. They claim that randomized clinical trials have never been conducted to prove the superiority of protons.

Yet these same centers acknowledge the superiority of using protons for treating brain tumors, spinal tumors, ocular tumors, and pediatric cancers, because of the significant benefits resulting from spared healthy tissue around the target volume. Interestingly, there have never been randomized clinical trials to prove this. The laws of physics are irrefutable.

Top 10 Cancer Centers Are Embracing Proton Therapy

We wrote an article in our March BOB Tales titled, “Top Ten Cancer Centers Moving Toward Proton.” In the article we referenced the annual U.S. News & World Report ranking of the top cancer hospitals in the United States. Interestingly, seven of the top ten cancer centers either have a proton center or are building one. There’s a message there.

Today there are 11 operating proton centers in the U.S. with 19 more in the planning or construction stages. Two are even planned for the Washington, DC area. Many more are operating in Europe and Asia.

Considerable research is underway to reduce the capital investment to build a proton center, and important clinical trials are underway at several proton centers to dramatically reduce the cost of treatment.

So, pick the name of a prestigious medical center. They probably already have a proton center. If not, you can bet they are planning to build one.

Myth #9: BUSTED!

Any questions? Just ask.