Cancer Center

Willis-Knighton Cancer Center to Install Revolutionary Proton Therapy Equipment

July 17, 2013

Willis-Knighton Health System announces a major step in the development of the WK Proton Therapy Center, the arrival of the cyclotron as part of the ProteusONE™ with pencil beam scanning technology.

The cyclotron will arrive in Shreveport from Belgium on Friday, July 19, and will be installed on Saturday and Monday in a 1-1/2 story concrete vault within the WK Proton Therapy Center, a new 55,000 square foot addition to the existing Willis-Knighton Cancer Center. The cyclotron is the engine of the proton therapy system, accelerating protons to two-thirds the speed of light in order to destroy cancer tumor cells. The cyclotron comes in two main pieces, weighing a total of 220 tons and is being transported from Houston to Shreveport after arriving by ship from Belgium. The vault in which the cyclotron will be housed contains 525 tons of reinforcing steel and concrete walls and ceiling up to ten feet thick. The remaining elements of the Proton Therapy equipment should be installed by early October.

Proton therapy is considered the most advanced and targeted cancer treatment. Protons deposit the majority of their radiation directly within the tumor, while sparing the healthy surrounding tissue. All of the 11 existing proton therapy centers are housed in facilities nearing the size of a football field and cost from $120 million - $200 million. Willis-Knighton has partnered with Belgium’s Ion Beam Applications (IBA) to build the world’s first compact proton therapy system with pencil beam scanning at a total project cost of $40 million. Dr. Lane Rosen, Medical Director of Radiation Oncology at WKCC comments that, “We cannot wait to see proton therapy become an available option for our patients. We have been on the cutting-edge of radiation therapy for over a decade now, and the addition of proton therapy allows our patients to continue to receive the world’s best treatment without the need to travel out of the region.”

Final completion of the WK Proton Therapy Center is scheduled for the end of 2013, with patients being treated in late 2014. Proton therapy is used to treat many cancers, particularly in situations where treatment options are limited and conventional radiation presents risk to the patient, including eye or brain cancers, tumors close the brain stem or spinal cord, lung, head and neck, pancreas, left-sided breast, and prostate cancers. Several months will be required for testing and calibration of the new ProteusONE system. The $40 million project includes the ProteusONE, additional clinical space for radiation, medical, and surgical oncology, expansion of patient-support services and will employ about 30 health care professionals.

Opened in 2000, the Willis-Knighton Cancer Center provides a wide range of treatment options for cancer patients including radiation oncology, medical oncology and hematology, surgical oncology and gynecologic oncology. The Cancer Center provides diagnostic services such as PET, X-ray, CT and laboratory. It also offers support groups, counseling, nutritional and educational resources, and community education programs.

The Willis-Knighton Cancer Center’s Department of Radiation Oncology is accredited by the American College of Radiation Oncology (ACRO), the Commission on Cancer (CoC) of the American College of Surgeons, and the American College of Radiology (ACR). The Department of Radiation Oncology is also a founding member of the largest medical physics residency program in the United States, teaching post-graduate physicists the intricacies of clinical physics which are critical to safe and successful radiation therapy.