Dr. Blank, along with Radiation Oncologist colleagues Dr. Kishor Singapuri, Dr. Kenneth Berkenstock and Dr. Pamela Boimel, is excited to bring the world’s most advanced anti-cancer radiation therapy to cancer patients in Lancaster and the wider Pennsylvania region. Dr. Blank responded to commonly asked questions regarding proton therapy.
What is proton therapy used for?
Proton radiotherapy is an advanced form of radiation treatment that is used to treat cancer patients with extreme precision, targeting the malignancy with millimeter accuracy. Such precision can lessen damage to healthy tissue and enable patients to receive high-dose radiotherapy with significantly fewer side effects. Proton radiotherapy is particularly beneficial for cancers near critical organs. For example, lung cancer is commonly located next to the heart and esophagus, and by using proton radiotherapy, physicians at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health can effectively target the lung cancer while sparing the heart and esophagus. Proton radiotherapy is used worldwide to treat many types of cancer, including prostate, head and neck, gynecologic, breast, brain, liver, lymphoma and sarcomas. Another benefit of proton radiotherapy is its ability to safely deliver treatment for tumors that recur in areas that have previously received conventional radiotherapy.
Why are we bringing proton to Lancaster?
LG Health is proud to bring proton radiotherapy to Lancaster and Central Pennsylvania, as it provides our community with innovative technology not currently available. Currently, the only proton radiotherapy center in Pennsylvania is located more than 60 miles away, in Philadelphia. Because treatments occur daily, often for four to seven consecutive weeks, the burden of travel is significant. The physicians and staff at ABBCI are excited to offer this advanced form of cancer-fighting radiotherapy closer to home.
When will the LG Health proton machine be available to treat patients?
We anticipate treating patients in late 2021. Construction of the proton center at the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute began in October 2019. The cyclotron (the proton-generating machine) is currently being manufactured and tested in Germany. LG Health will be the first in the nation to treat with Varian’s probeam 360 cyclotron, which offers pencil-beam scanning and intensity-modulated proton therapy (IMPT). We expect to receive the cyclotron in fall 2020, and commissioning and 501k approval will take another year.
What are we doing for our patients who need proton therapy before it is ready in Lancaster?
If your physician believes you may benefit from proton radiotherapy, he/she will refer you to the Roberts Proton Therapy Center in Philadelphia at Penn Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center, which is the largest and most advanced proton therapy facility in the world.
Why are you excited that proton will be available for our patients in Lancaster?
Proton radiotherapy is the most precise form of radiotherapy and is only available at a handful of centers in America. By bringing this powerful treatment to Lancaster and the surrounding communities, we are excited to see our patients benefit from this highly precise and powerful form of radiotherapy. We especially look forward to integrating proton treatments with other cancer-fighting therapies including chemotherapy, immunotherapy and molecularly targeted agents. The combination of conventional radiotherapy and other cancer therapies often causes significant side effects that may require treatment to be truncated or patients to be admitted. However, studies have shown we can safely integrate proton treatments with other cancer therapies, to the great benefit of our patients.