Virtua Health and Penn Medicine unveil $45 million proton therapy center

Two Healthcare Providers Bring Advanced Cancer Treatment To South Jersey Patients With New $45 Million Penn Medicine | Virtua Health Proton Therapy Center in Voorhees.

Located on the Virtua campus, it will be the first proton therapy center in South Jersey and among less than 50 in the United States, according to an October 17 announcement.

“Proton therapy offers new hope for people with complex or recurrent cancers, and we’re excited to bring this world-class care to our community,” said Stephanie Fendrick, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Virtua Health. , in a press release.

Proton therapy is a painless, non-invasive treatment that uses a beam of high-energy protons to kill cancer cells, the systems explained. It involves accelerating subatomic particles to about 450 million miles per hour, a speed needed to create the energy needed to deliver targeted radiation, said Dr. James Metz, chairman of radiation oncology at Penn Medicine.

The 8,600 square foot facility, which began construction in June 2020, is expected to open to patients in early 2023. The center is connected to the Penn Medicine | Virtua Health Radiation Oncology Suite.

How it works?

Penn Medicine and Virtua Health recently hosted a preview event, which included behind-the-scenes tours of the technology.

Located out of sight of the patients, a 90 ton device called a cyclotron is the main component of the therapy. The cyclotron sits in an underground vault, surrounded by concrete walls 8 feet by 21 feet thick. The facility also houses a 90-ton gantry, which is used to direct the proton beam to hit the tumor.

have you to know?
  • The center required 300 concrete trucks.
  • The cyclotron and gantry traveled 4,000 miles by ship from Germany to the port of Newark.
  • The tractor-trailer that delivered the cyclotron to Voorhees was 101 feet long.
  • The semi-trailer, shipping container and cyclotron together weighed over 300,000 pounds.

Loud sound? Doctors said the average treatment would take around 30 minutes from arrival to departure.

Health centers said this advanced form of radiation therapy, which can be used for various types of cancer, offers new potential for recovery, survival and quality of life. Also, it is a preferred option for tumors near very sensitive areas (such as the spinal cord, heart, and brain) or those that cannot be completely removed by surgery.

Fendrick added that the center is a “major milestone in Virtua’s longstanding partnership with Penn Medicine.”

The collaboration between Penn Medicine and Virtua Health dates back to 2015 and includes both cancer and neuroscience services. The new center is part of Penn Medicine | Virtua Health Cancer Program, which provides cancer care to patients in Burlington, Camden and Gloucester counties.

“At the heart of our partnership with Virtua is our commitment to making it convenient for patients to get the best care, as close to home as possible,” said Kevin Mahoney, CEO of the healthcare system. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dennis Pullin, President and CEO of Virtua, added: “It’s an incredible source of hope to have here in South Jersey.”

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