At 220 tons, it’s not your average piece of medical equipment. The massive cyclotron arrived this morning at the Texas Center for Proton Therapy in Irving. The center, a collaboration of Texas Oncology, The US Oncology Network, and McKesson Specialty Health, is expected to treat its first patients in early 2016. The new cyclotron is the only second-generation proton therapy technology in Texas.
The cyclotron, a magnet-packed particle accelerator, creates protons that travel up to two-thirds the speed of light through a 143-foot beamline – nearly half the length of a football field – to the patient’s tumor with pinpoint accuracy. The therapy is especially beneficial for treating cancers requiring extreme precision such as tumors in the brain, eye, spine, head and neck, as well as pediatric patients. The beam’s exceptional accuracy minimizes side effects and damage to surrounding healthy tissue and enables patients to maintain their quality of life during and after treatment, according to Texas Center officials.
“Texas Oncology is excited to bring this remarkable technology to the area to help create more cancer survivors,” said Dr. Steven Paulson, chairman and president of Texas Oncology. “The size and weight of the cyclotron belie the precision that this form of radiation treatment delivers in destroying cancer cells.” The arrival of the cyclotron marks the end of a month-long odyssey for the equipment, which began in Belgium on May 21. Manufactured by Ion Beam Applications S.A. (IBA) in Belgium, the 220-ton cyclotron was shipped in two sections, bolted to the hull of the ship to balance the unusually heavy cargo and to prevent capsizing. After more than 5,000 miles at sea, the cyclotron traveled from the Port of Houston to Irving by land, on two 19-axle trucks via an indirect route due to its massive size and weight. A specialized crane then carefully hoisted it into place in the facility. “The delivery of the cyclotron is an impressive logistical feat that signifies an important construction milestone. We’re pleased to have completed one more step in bringing this advanced treatment to North Texas,” said Kirk Kaminsky, president of The US Oncology Network and Provider Services for McKesson Specialty Health.