Proton therapy cancer treatment center opens, first of its kind

Proton therapy cancer treatment center opens, first of its kind in Tennessee

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Proton therapy is only available in a handful of cities, but just this week, Tennessee's first and only proton therapy treatment facility opened to patients in Knoxville. Proton therapy is only available in a handful of cities, but just this week, Tennessee's first and only proton therapy treatment facility opened to patients in Knoxville.
The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first in the state and one of only 14 in the United States. The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first in the state and one of only 14 in the United States.
Proton therapy uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat cancer, and unlike traditional radiation, which can damage healthy tissue, proton therapy can be focused directly on the cancer. Proton therapy uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat cancer, and unlike traditional radiation, which can damage healthy tissue, proton therapy can be focused directly on the cancer.
"In patients with prostate cancer, it only takes four weeks, as opposed to eight to nine weeks with conventional treatments," said Dr. Marcio Fagundes. "In patients with prostate cancer, it only takes four weeks, as opposed to eight to nine weeks with conventional treatments," said Dr. Marcio Fagundes.
Before the center opened this week, local cancer patients like Tom Bomkamp of Knoxville had to travel hundreds of miles away to the next closest proton therapy center. Before the center opened this week, local cancer patients like Tom Bomkamp of Knoxville had to travel hundreds of miles away to the next closest proton therapy center.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - One of the most advanced new forms of cancer treatment is now being offered in Tennessee.

Proton therapy is only available in a handful of cities, but just this week, Tennessee's first and only proton therapy treatment facility opened to patients in Knoxville.

The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first in the state and one of only 14 in the United States.

The center opened on Monday, and doctors are already treating dozens of patients.

Proton therapy uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat cancer, and unlike traditional radiation, which can damage healthy tissue, proton therapy can be focused directly on the cancer.

"Proton therapy has the advantage that we can selectively deposit the radiation dose on the cancer, in many cases giving a higher dose, a more curative dose, and at the same time, reducing exposure to normal tissue, so we can minimize side effects," said Provision Center for Proton Therapy Medical Director Dr. Marcio Fagundes.

The course of treatment is shorter, with patients receiving painless 20 minute treatments five days a week.

"In patients with prostate cancer, it only takes four weeks, as opposed to eight to nine weeks with conventional treatments," said Fagundes.

Before the center opened this week, local cancer patients like Tom Bomkamp of Knoxville had to travel hundreds of miles away to the next closest proton therapy center.

"It's a very small beam and it goes right to the cancer and zaps it," said Bomkamp.

Bomkamp, diagnosed with prostate cancer in February 2011, says the treatment has saved his life.

"I'm alive and well, and 99 percent cancer free," said Bomkamp.

Now this revolutionary cancer fighting tool is right here at home.

"This is so beautiful that it's here in our backyard now," said Bomkamp.

"Having proton therapy gives us the best tool to accomplish our goal," said Fagundes.

The Provision Center for Proton Therapy is currently only treating prostate cancer patients.

In the next few months, they will begin treating those with other types of cancer, including breast and lung.

The center currently has only one treatment room in use, but by the end of the year will have three, allowing them to treat more than 900 patients annually.

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