Proton Therapy is one of the most technologically advanced treatments for cancer.
Protons are split off a hydrogen atom, accelerated to roughly two-thirds the speed of light; transported along an evacuated tube into one of a number of treatment rooms and delivered to the patient via gantries allowing 360 degree rotation around the patient, or via single beam lines.
When treating any cancer with radiation, the aim is to deliver maximum dose to cancer cells while sparing as much healthy tissue as possible.
Conventional radiation therapy faces challenges from side effects because of a relatively high radiation entrance dose and the exit dose. By contrast, Proton Therapy has a much lower entrance dose and no exit dose causing less damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumour.
Proton Therapy produces fewer side effects and a better quality of life during and after treatment. Proton Therapy also avoids the risks of post operative recovery associated with surgery.
Proton therapy is vitally important in the treatment of certain cancers in children, tumours of the eye, base of skull and para-spinal tumours and is becoming the treatment of choice for many cancers such in head and neck, brain and spinal, prostate, lung, gastrointestinal and breast.
There are no proton therapy facilities in Australia or South East Asia, but more than 70 facilities in the northern hemisphere are either established or being constructed.1
As at December 2013, 105,743 patients have been treated with Proton Therapy.
Proton Therapy is expected to eventually replace the traditional methods of radiation therapy.
Proton Therapy Australia
Proton Therapy Australia Pty Ltd (PTA) ACN: 120 664 566
Incorporated July, 2006, PTA is currently the only company in Australia with approval from Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration to import proton equipment to Australia.
Between 2007 and 2011, PTA secured federal government approvals, prepared a detailed business case, formed links with State and Federal Governments, established an Advisory Board, initiated alliances with teaching hospitals, and identified possible sites for the facility.
November 2011 PTA completed a first minor capital raising.
The Planning Phase has begun and subject to successful capital raising, the facility is scheduled to open in 2017.
PTA is advised by individuals selected for their expertise in planning.
The Australian Facility
Australia’s first Proton Therapy Facility will change the way cancer care is delivered in Australia.
Proton Therapy Australia (PTA) has been working to establish a Proton Therapy Facility in Australia to treat cancer.
The Mater, Queensland is a health service, comprising seven hospitals, health centres, a world-class medical research institute, and pathology and pharmaceutical businesses all with the aim of providing exceptional care.
In August 2014 PTA and the Mater signed an Alliance to co-locate facilities.
The facility will be a turn-key proton facility, comprising four treatment rooms providing pencil beam scanning, and an imaging department offering the latest in precision diagnostic tools.
Clinical collaborations with local and international cancer centres will contribute to world-class research by identifying improved ways of using protons in combination with other treatments - such as with chemotherapy and gene therapy.
Patients receiving the highest priority in the first instance will be paediatric patients, patients with central nervous system or head and neck tumours, eye disorders, lung cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer.
Whilst the facility will primarily be for the treatment of cancer, it will also be the first proton accelerator for medical physics research in Australia.
The Development of PTA's facility has four phases. Phase 1 is completed. The remaining are:
- Complete capital raising to carry the project through to the Operational Phase.
- Further develop and finalise the design of the facility.
- Obtain statutory approval, including development and building approval to enable construction of the facility.
- Finalise design documentation for construction.
- Prepare and finalise project delivery with selected consultants and contractors.
- Enter into contracts for the construction, delivery, installation and maintenance of the equipment.
- In this phase, the facility will be constructed and the equipment installed and commissioned to commence operations.
- The Proton Therapy system will be housed in a purpose built building.
- It is expected that the building will take 10 months before it has reached the stage when the major items of equipment can commence being installed.
- The construction of the building will be undertaken in close consultation with the proton technology and radiology vendors.
- The accelerator and gantry will take about 14 months to install after delivery, including extensive commissioning before the first treatment room is operational.
- When first operational, the facility will have only one treatment room.
- The second treatment room will be on line within 3 months, the third by 6 months and the fourth by 9 months.
- The facility will provide an integrated cancer service including diagnostic radiology, the delivery of Proton Therapy and chemotherapy, as well as ancillary clinical services.
The following images are taken from proton therapy sites under construction in the USA, courtesy of IBA.