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2008: Cancer Patients, Physicians, Community Support Protons
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Cancer Patients, Physicians, Community Support Protons

Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board Hears Public Comment for Proposed Proton Therapy Center of Central DuPage Hospital

WARRENVILLE, Ill., March 5, 2008 — More than 100 cancer patients, physicians, community residents and officials attended the Illinois Health Facilities Planning Board (IHFPB) public hearing today at the Warrenville City Hall in support of the proposed Proton Therapy Center of Central DuPage Hospital.

Experts estimate that every year, more than 10,000 Illinois cancer patients would be candidates for proton therapy, an advanced treatment that is an alternative to traditional radiation therapy but without the short- and long-term side effects. There are three centers under construction and only five centers operating in the United States providing a maximum of 9,000 treatment slots per year. The planning board is scheduled to make a decision on the Proton Therapy Center of Central DuPage Hospital at its April 8-9 meeting.

The father of a 10-year-old child who was put on a waiting list for proton therapy but had a recurrence of her cancer before receiving treatment, emphasized the need for more centers. Rob Rederer of Schaumburg, Illinois, said they reached out to nearly every proton center in the country before his daughter was accepted to one in Bloomington, Indiana. "We were denied at many centers because there were too few treatment slots available. Unfortunately, due to the high demand for protons she was delayed in getting started on her proton treatment and in February of 2008, Alexa's tumor recurred." Rederer said she is currently receiving standard radiation therapy to shrink the tumor, and if this is successful, she will begin an experimental chemotherapy treatment.

"Because of the incredible demand for proton therapy Alexa had to wait before receiving protons," Rederer said. "Even though we never received protons, we still are advocates for them and especially for making sure that there are enough centers to meet the need in Illinois, close to home."

"Many patients never even pursue proton treatment because of the geographic and capacity limitations that exist," said Jay Loeffler, M.D., Herman and Joan Suit Professor of Radiation Oncology at Harvard Medical School and Chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, one of the five U.S. proton centers. "The lead time and resources required to build these complex facilities mean that delaying approval of sound proposals like this one will still leave demand unfulfilled and cause patients to continue waiting for years to come."

William Hartsell, M.D., president of Radiation Oncology Consultants, Ltd. (ROCL) in Chicago, discussed the local demand for proton therapy.  The proposed proton therapy center is a joint venture involving ROCL, Central DuPage Hospital (CDH) and ProCure Treatment Centers, Bloomington, Ind."Based solely on the patients that the physicians of ROCL see in consultation each year, we have determined that there are enough patients in need of protons to keep a proton therapy center busy," said Dr. Hartsell. "And this is based on just 12 of the more than 100 radiation oncologists in Illinois."

Dr. Hartsell discussed how treatment slots would be allocated through a tumor board composed of physicians and other medical professionals. The board will select patients for treatment based on medical need with no consideration to a patient's insurance or ability to pay. Although proton therapy is covered by insurance and Medicare, Luke McGuinness, president and chief executive officer of Central DuPage Hospital, confirmed that the proton therapy center will use the same charity care policy as CDH. "No patient will be turned away from this center because they lack insurance or financial resources," said McGuinness.

"I am an advocate for proton therapy. I believe in it. I have been treated with it. ProCure is committed to making protons available for as many patients as we can," said Dr. John Cameron, president and chairman of ProCure Treatment Centers. "We do not view other proton projects as competitors, but as collaborators, colleagues and allies. We should never battle among ourselves, but should remain united in the fight for better cancer care that has brought us all to this moment." Cameron was instrumental in developing the proton treatment center in Bloomington and founded ProCure to make the therapy more widely available in the U.S.

Judith Whinfrey, Chair of the Board of Directors of Central DuPage Hospital, presented the IHFPB with more than 300 written testimonies from health care professionals, community and business leaders, elected officials, and local residents supporting the center. David Brummel, Mayor of the City of Warrenville, announced that the City Council of Warrenville unanimously passed a resolution supporting the construction of the facility.

With private financing, building design and equipment already secured, the center could break ground upon receiving approval from the IHFPB. With approval in April, the center will open to treat patients in mid-2010.

The Proton Treatment Center of Central DuPage Hospital will be a four treatment room 58,000-square-foot facility. The development of the treatment center will create approximately 100 full-time jobs and 400 temporary positions for construction and start-up operations.  Illinois-based contractors will be used to construct the facility. The project will be funded entirely through private sources. All equipment to be used to treat patients in the center has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which regulates medical devices.

Learn more about proton therapy and the Proton Therapy Center of Central DuPage Hospital at www.ProtonTherapyIllinois.com.

Central DuPage Hospital is a nationally recognized 361-bed facility located in Winfield, Illinois, a suburb west of Chicago. CDH is a leading center for surgical innovations and was one of the first institutions in the nation to offer robotic-assisted surgery, minimally invasive spine surgery with bio-engineered bone protein and was the first Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in DuPage County.  Recently, CDH was recognized by U.S. News & World Report on the list of Best Hospitals in the orthopaedics category.

The hospital is part of an interdependent network of health-care organizations and services, including convenient care centers, occupational health services and a full range of options for senior living, home health and hospice care. For more information or to find a doctor, visit www.cdh.org.
ProCure Treatment Centers, Inc., based in Bloomington, Ind., was founded in 2005 by Dr. John Cameron, a particle therapy physics pioneer who was pivotal in the development of the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute. ProCure provides management and financing support and a model for the complete design, construction, operation and maintenance of world-class proton therapy centers. Through partnerships with leading radiation oncologists and hospitals, ProCure's business model reduces the time, effort and cost involved in creating a facility, which allows physicians more time to focus on patient care. 

ProCure plans to increase the number of centers across the country to make proton therapy affordable and accessible to patients who would benefit from the treatment.  Members of ProCure's team have been involved in the development of five of the seven proton treatment centers currently in operation or under construction.  Most recently, ProCure partnered with the two leading local radiation oncology practices and a health care system in Oklahoma City to build that state's first proton therapy center.  It is scheduled to open in 2009.

For more information, visit www.ProCureCenters.com.

Radiation Oncology Consultants Limited (ROCL), with headquarters in Park Ridge, Ill., is the largest private practice radiation oncology practices in Illinois.

The practice, composed of 12 board certified radiation oncology physicians who provide cancer care to patients at multiple locations, has been an early adopter of leading technologies used in the treatment of cancer. These technologies include: 3-dimensional conformal radiation therapy (3DCRT), intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), Gamma Knife radiosurgery and, soon, proton therapy.  For more information, visit www.chicagocancer.com.

Nearly 50,000 cancer patients worldwide have taken advantage of the technology to effectively treat most common types of solid tumor cancers. Proton therapy can be particularly effective in treating children, who are more sensitive than adults to the effects of radiation. Studies have shown proton therapy to be effective in treating prostate, colorectal, head and neck and brain tumors as well as cancers that cannot be removed completely by surgery. Studies also are showing promising results in the treatment of some breast and lung tumors.

Proton therapy is an effective alternative to conventional X-ray radiation treatments, but without many of the side effects patients often experience. Compared to conventional X-ray (photon) radiation therapy, proton therapy can be more precisely targeted to the tumor, allowing patients to receive higher, more effective doses, and greatly reducing damage to healthy tissue near the tumor.  Research shows proton therapy causes fewer short- and long-term side effects than traditional radiation therapy, diminishes the chances of secondary tumors and improves quality of life for patients.

In 1961, the Harvard Cyclotron Laboratory at Harvard University in Boston began treating patients with proton therapy. Advances in imaging technology such as CT, MRI and PET scans, helped researchers to better diagnose and visualize tumors and made proton therapy a more practical treatment option. The first hospital-based proton treatment center in the United States was built in 1990 at Loma Linda University Medical Center in Loma Linda, Calif.

In the United States, proton therapy is currently available at: Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute at Indiana University, Bloomington, Ind.; Frances H. Burr Proton Therapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston (affiliated with Harvard Medical School); The Proton Therapy Center at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center at University of Texas, Houston; Loma Linda University Medical Center, in Loma Linda, Calif.; University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, Jacksonville, Fla.  Two centers are scheduled to open in 2009, the University of Pennsylvania Roberts Proton Therapy Center in Philadelphia and the ProCure Oklahoma Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City.


1. Miralbell et al. Potential reduction of the incidence of radiation-induced second cancers by using proton beam in the treatment of pediatric tumors.  Int J. Radiat. Oncol. Biol. Phys. 2002;54(3) 824-829.
2. S. Ternier, Ph.D. Proton Therapy White Paper. On file.
3. MacDonald S., DeLaney T. and Loeffler J. Proton Beam Radiation Therapy. Radiation Oncology 2006, 24:199-208.