Emory Proton Therapy Center begins construction

Woodruff Health Sciences Center | May 2, 2013

Story image

The Emory Proton Therapy Center, just a few blocks from Emory University Hospital Midtown, is expected to treat approximately 2,200 cancer patients a year and open its doors in 2016.

A new era in cancer treatment in Georgia began this week as Emory Healthcare and Winship Cancer Institute joined state and local government officials to break ground on the first facility in Georgia to offer the most advanced radiation therapy possible – proton beam therapy.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Emory President James Wagner and other officials wielded the shovels at the corner of Peachtree Street and North Avenue, the site of the new 107,000 square-foot facility. The Emory Proton Therapy Center, just a few blocks from Emory University Hospital Midtown, is expected to treat approximately 2,200 cancer patients a year and open its doors in 2016. The proton facility is being built in partnership with Advanced Particle Therapy, LLC of San Diego, CA.

Proton therapy is the next generation of radiation oncology. It uses protons to precisely treat cancerous tumors throughout the body. The technology minimizes radiation to the healthy tissue surrounding the tumor and provides a more effective treatment with fewer side effects. While only offered by fewer than a dozen centers in the country, more than 110,000 people worldwide have received this FDA approved therapy.

Construction on the $200+ million facility already has begun and is expected to employ as many as 950 workers onsite. Once fully operational, the Center will employ approximately 150 full-time highly skilled proton therapy professionals. It will further establish Atlanta, Emory and Winship Cancer Institute as centers for biomedical innovation and for advanced cancer care. In addition, researchers at Winship Cancer Institute will collaborate with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia Tech in continued studies on proton beam therapy.

"This is significant for Winship but, more importantly, for our patients," says Walter J. Curran, Jr., MD, executive director of Winship Cancer Institute. "Proton beam therapy matters a great deal in improving outcomes in certain cancers, and in minimizing exposure to healthy tissues in others. We at Winship are committed to providing the most effective therapy to our patients that we can. For many patients, this will make a very big difference."

Advanced Particle Therapy received a certificate of need from the Georgia Department of Community Health in 2012 to build Georgia’s first proton beam therapy treatment facility. In addition to access, patients will have the opportunity for better treatment outcomes with fewer side effects.

The center bolsters the position of Winship Cancer Institute, Georgia’s only National Cancer Institute designated cancer treatment facility, as the state’s leader in cancer treatment. Children with cancer particularly stand to gain from proton beam therapy, Curran explains, because the fast-growing cells of children are especially vulnerable to traditional radiation.

"APT is honored to team with Emory and its nationally recognized radiation oncology faculty to bring this proton therapy center to the Atlanta region," says Jeff Bordok, president and CEO of Advanced Particle Therapy.

Video

A computer animation showing the workings of the proton therapy technology to be housed in the Emory Proton Therapy Center in Atlanta, GA.