UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center Magazine Spring 2017 - Page 17

Fiveash, M.D., professor in the UAB Department of Radiation Oncology and Cancer Center senior scientist. “It uses sophisticated imaging to create a 3-D image of the tumor. It then delivers a focused beam of radiation, custom-sized and -shaped, so that it paints the tumor site while leaving surrounding tissue generally untouched, reducing collateral damage.” Proton therapy is appropriate for many solid cancer tumors, including tumors of the brain and central nervous system, eye, gastrointestinal tract, head and neck, liver, lung, prostate, spine, and some breast tumors. It can be very efficacious for single-site tumors. In some cases, proton therapy may be useful in treating cancer that has metastasized, or spread into surrounding tissue, due to its focused dose advantages. “Proton therapy is particularly beneficial for children, as they are especially vulnerable to damage from radiation,” says Alyssa Reddy, M.D., Cancer Center senior scientist and professor of hematology/oncology in the UAB Department of Pediatrics. “Conventional radiation can help cure a child’s cancer, but it carries an increased risk of damage to surrounding tissue. In children, tissue damage, particularly in still-developing organs such as the brain, can leave the child susceptible to myriad health issues that may not emerge for years. Proton therapy offers the opportunity to successfully treat pediatric tumors and minimize the risk for side effects later in life. This will improve the health and quality of life of pediatric cancer survivors, most of whom we expect to live long and productive lives.” The UAB Proton Center will consist of a three-story building to house the proton therapy system, manufactured by Varian Medical Systems, a longtime partner with UAB in the delivery of radiation therapy. UAB will lease the property to Pr oton International, which will build and own the facility. Planning and pre-treatment will continue to be done at UAB’s Hazelrig-Salter Radiation Oncology Center. The medical staff, including radiation oncologists, cancer physicians, medical physicists, dosimetrists, radiation therapy technologists and nurses, will be exclusively from UAB. UAB will also be involved in clinical research studies on the use of proton therapy, to discover the full utility of the therapy and produce best practice parameters on its use. Proton therapy uses an aimed beam of protons directed at the tumor site. The beam is configured to deliver the majority of its energy precisely at the tumor location. # K N O W U A B C C C • U A B . E D U / C A N C E R 15