SEATTLE, Feb. 8 The Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA)and Northwest Hospital & Medical Center today announced the signing of aletter of intent to explore the development of a new, state-of-the-art cancertreatment facility offering proton beam radiation therapy.
SCCA originally announced its intention to develop a proton-therapyfacility in September 2006 and has since been working to secure financing,develop supporting partnerships and determine a location. Under the letter ofintent, Northwest Hospital will house the new facility on its 33-acre, northSeattle campus and will become an equity partner in the project.
The new center, featuring a proton-beam therapy system from HitachiAmerica Ltd., will be the first of its kind in the region and one of sevencurrently operating or under development in the United States. Whencompleted, the center is expected to draw patients from throughout the PacificNorthwest and West Coast.
"We see this facility as a regional resource -- a new treatment option forcancer patients throughout the Northwest," said Norm Hubbard, executive vicepresident of the SCCA. "Proton therapy is an exciting and emergingtechnology, but much more research needs to be done to determine all the bestand most appropriate uses.
"Making new therapies more widely available as they are developed in aworld-class research environment is a core mission of the SCCA, and it's a keyreason why Northwest Hospital was interested in joining us in this endeavor."
Hubbard said it is also why, with the support of Sen. Patty Murray, Rep.David Reichert and the rest of the Washington delegation, the SCCA last yearreceived a $2.1 million federal grant for the proton project.
Northwest Hospital has a long history of partnering with other health careproviders to bring expert care and services to the surrounding community,including cancer care, cardiac surgery, and wound care among others. With theproton-therapy project, the SCCA will join Northwest Hospital's cancer-carepartners, including Swedish Cancer Institute and others.
"This project is a powerful representation of Northwest Hospital'scommitment to bringing the newest minimally invasive technologies to thecommunity and to providing the most comprehensive cancer care available toanyone fighting this disease," said Bill Schneider, Northwest Hospital CEO."We are excited to partner with a world-class organization like SCCA to buildthis facility and to enhance our cancer programs by offering access to thisbreakthrough treatment."
Proton-beam therapy delivers precisely targeted doses of radiation totumors, destroying cancer cells while minimizing damage to surrounding healthytissue. In many cases, such therapy can deliver more radiation more preciselythan conventional, photon-based (X-ray) radiation treatment. It is being usedtoday to treat many cancers, including those of the eye, head and neck andprostate.
Proton therapy is a particularly valuable option for treating children,whose developing organs, bones and brains may suffer long-term damage fromincidental irradiation during conventional radiation treatment. The pinpointtargeting
"Proton-beam therapy will allow more precise targeting of radiation,sparing the normal, yet immature tissue around a tumor in young children,"said Thomas N. Hansen, M.D., CEO at Children's Hospital & Regional MedicalCenter. "Proton-beam therapy could reduce long-term growth and developmentside effects. The combination of excellent cancer treatment with fewer sideeffects makes proton beam therapy an exciting innovation."
About Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, established in 1998, unites the adult andpediatric cancer-care services of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UWMedicine and Children's Hospital & Regional Medical Center. A major focus ofSCCA is to speed