KNOXVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Three prostate cancer patients were among the first to receive proton therapy in the state of Tennessee today. Provision Center for Proton Therapy, located in Knoxville, treated its first patients with this revolutionary and accurate cancer treatment available at only in a handful of cities in the U.S.
Two Knoxvillians and one patient from North Carolina underwent proton therapy at the Dowell Springs campus at Tennessee’s first and only proton therapy facility. Joe Hamby from Knoxville was one of the three patients to undergo the non-invasive and precise treatment.
“I researched it and knew I wanted proton therapy,” said Hamby. “I initially planned on going to another proton center 500 miles away until I learned there was one right in my backyard. It’s a blessing to have Provision Center for Proton Therapy right here in our community.”
Proton therapy, the most advanced form of radiotherapy in the world, uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer, such as prostate, pediatric, sarcoma, brain, lung, and breast cancers. Different from conventional radiation therapy — in which beam energy dissipates as it passes through the body — proton beams can be fine-tuned with millimeters of accuracy to deliver maximum energy within the controlled range of the cancerous tumor.
Treatment plans will range from 20 - 40 treatments depending on the stage of the cancer. Low to intermediate risk patients will receive 20 treatments over a four-week period. This schedule will result in fewer side effects and will cost less than conventional radiation.
“The treatment of our first patients is such a significant milestone,” said Mary Lou DuBois, President of Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “We are blessed and honored to see our vision come full-circle. This wouldn’t have been possible without the passionate dedication and teamwork from all the facility, administrative and clinical staff. Our mission is to provide our community and this region with the most compassionate and effective cancer treatment available today.”
Medical Director Marcio Fagundes, M.D., performed each of the treatments. A board-certified radiation oncologist, Dr. Fagundes has been involved with protons since the early 1990s. He first became interested in proton therapy during his internship and residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had the opportunity to guest intern at Harvard University. Upon completion of his residency, he went back to Harvard Medical School for his fellowship, where he began treating patients with proton therapy in 1993.
“I am extremely honored to be able to introduce patients to proton therapy in Knoxville,” said Dr. Fagundes. “One of the most rewarding aspects of being a proton therapy radiation oncologist is seeing patients who have been able to resume normal, active lives as cancer survivors. The opportunity to relocate to Knoxville and to provide proton therapy to this area is a privilege.”
Former proton therapy patient Gordon Webster, who completed his treatment two years ago at a proton therapy center 550 miles away, is thrilled that proton therapy is available right here in Knoxville. “This new facility will do wonders for thousands of men diagnosed with prostate cancer each year, as well as many others stricken with cancers that proton therapy can treat,” said Webster. “And please don't forget we only have this very valuable facility due to the vision and generosity of Provision Founder Terry Douglass.”
Webster, a Kingston resident, is an official Ambassador and “Proton Guy,” a group of East Tennessee men who have all been treated with proton therapy and now hold regular support groups and volunteer regularly at Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “The emotional support is a very important component for anyone undergoing cancer treatment,” said Webster. “We just happen to be a group of individuals that took our healthcare into our own hands and sought out the most advanced and least invasive cancer treatment in the world. We are here to spread the word about proton therapy and to guide and support all patients who choose this life-saving and life-preserving treatment.”
The center is opening less than two years after breaking ground in April 2012. A 220-ton cyclotron, a particle accelerator that produces protons, was installed a year ago in January 2013 at the center, which sits on the 120-acre comprehensive outpatient medical campus at Dowell Springs in Knoxville. The pastoral campus provides a resort setting with paved walking trails, waterfalls, beautiful landscape that reflects the areas natural beauty and benches to rest, visit, read, reflect or just observe nature.
As the Great Smoky Mountains National Park welcomes millions of visitors a year to East Tennessee, it will also provide Provision patients a peaceful retreat, only minutes away. East Tennessee offers four beautiful seasons with a mild climate, a convenient location, attractive cost of living, and southern hospitality with natural and cultural resources for patients to enjoy during their non-clinical time, while they create some very positive and memorable experiences that will enhance their overall treatment experience.
Provision’s “Culture of Care” will extend beyond service with a mission to respect the dignity of the human person, preserve quality of life and includes a dedicated Hospitality Team with full concierge service to engage the community and serve patient needs. The Culture of Care program will be a distinguishing feature of the Center, along with an innovative team that will challenge the status quo for the betterment of patients through care, research, technology and cancer treatment.
Board member and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton can be seen in a local television commercial promoting the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. These spots will air during the Winter Olympics in February and throughout the year.
About Provision Center for Proton Therapy
Provision Center for Proton Therapy is the first cancer treatment center of its kind in Tennessee and only the second in the Southeastern United States. Open to all credentialed physicians and health systems in the region, the Provision Center for Proton Therapy will have three treatment rooms and will be able to treat up to 900 cancer patients annually, and will bring in many patients from outside the area. Treatments will typically require daily 30 - 45 minute sessions for two months. The next closest location offering proton therapy is 350 miles away. The center brings to Knoxville an advanced cancer treatment capability that presently is available in only a handful of cities. It is one of only 14 in the nation and 46 in the world.