McLaren Proton Therapy Center doubles patient capacity, adds second treatment room

FLINT — More people fighting cancer may receive radiation oncology treatment with superior precision.

The McLaren Proton Therapy Center has opened a second treatment room and has added cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) for better imaging prior to each treatment.

Adding an additional treatment room makes the McLaren Proton Therapy Center the largest in Michigan, and the first proton therapy center in the state to operate cancer treatments in two rooms. In addition to having two rooms operational, McLaren has developed new imaging modality, adding the CBCT in both treatment rooms. All of this comes at a time when the number of physician referrals and self-referrals have significantly increased.

“We have an increasing demand for proton technology as we have been treating at almost capacity with one gantry room,” explains Hesham Gayar, MD, Medical Director of the McLaren Proton Therapy Center. “Having a second 45-ton gantry room, coupled with integrated CBCT volumetric image guidance to accurately target our proton pencil beam, makes McLaren Proton Therapy Center the largest and most advanced technological center in the state. Patients are coming to us from all over Michigan and the neighboring states. I am glad to have the additional room to help more patients receive life-saving treatments, at the highest possible precision and accuracy of positioning to reduce side effects and improve quality of life.”

The CBCT is a volumetric imaging modality. This technology allows for six-degrees of freedom when aligning patients for treatment. This means patients are accurately aligned for treatment quicker, even in the most challenging scenarios. A traditional image guided radiation therapy uses two-dimensional radiographic images, which do not delineate soft tissues. With a CBCT, therapists can see a more detailed image to distinguish the tumor from healthy tissue. The McLaren Proton Therapy Center is one of a few centers in the country with this technology.

“We’re at a good place, treating more patients than we could have imagined with only one room, utilizing this exceptional cancer treatment resource more efficiently” says Vahagn Nazaryan, Ph.D., Executive Director of the McLaren Proton Therapy Center. “While we begin treatments in the second room, we will continue to develop our center by focusing on getting a third treatment room operational. This will allow us to treat even more patients in the future with the most advanced technologies available.”

The addition of the second treatment room allows for a more efficient workflow, and for a better patient experience. As the proton beam is being delivered to one of the treatment rooms, another patient will be positioned and prepared for their treatment in the second treatment room.

Dr. Gayar said the McLaren Proton Therapy Center has continued operations throughout the coronavirus pandemic to ensure patients battling cancer receive their needed treatments. This further emphasizes commitment of the Karmanos Cancer Institute to serve our communities.

“Cancer doesn’t wait, even in a pandemic, so we continue our dedication to help our patients fight this disease no matter what,” Dr. Gayar said. “We continue to adhere to the most current safety measures to make sure our patients and staff are safe during this time.”