KOVA Foundation had the privilege to attend Advocate Radiation Oncology’s groundbreaking event on Wednesday, June 14, 2023, for the first proton therapy center in Southwest Florida. The new center will be located on the corner of Estero Boulevard and Three Oaks Parkway and bring some of the most advanced cancer care to Southwest Florida.
Proton therapy and photon therapy are the two main types of radiation therapy used to treat cancer. Proton benefits patients by using precise and targeted laser therapy to tumors and cancer cells. This type of laser beam can be stopped at a certain depth inside the tissue, therefore avoiding damaging rays to nearby healthy tissue. Contrarily, photon therapy (traditional radiation therapy) delivers x-rays to the tumor and cancer cells using a laser beam that passes through the cells and damages nearby healthy tissue. The synchrotron machine, which speeds up the protons in order to deliver them to the tissue, is approximately 5,000 square feet. It is currently being constructed in Belgium by Ion Beam Applications S.A.
Benefits to Southwest Florida
Proton therapy centers are not widely available throughout the United States, with only 42 operating centers nationwide. According to The National Association for Proton Therapy, Florida is home to six active proton therapy centers, all situated along the east coast. Patients from Southwest Florida who require proton therapy treatment, must travel more than two hours to reach the nearest facilities in Delray Beach or Miami.
Bringing advanced cancer care, such as proton therapy to Southwest Florida, will greatly benefit local families. Currently, patients must set up temporary accommodations outside of their local area, adding additional stress and financial strain. By establishing proton therapy facilities in Southwest Florida, patients and their families will experience a significant improvement in accessibility, comfort, and convenience, allowing them to receive the care they need.