Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center to Build Proton Therapy Program

Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, part of UHealth – the University of Miami Health System, announced on Thursday that it is adding a proton therapy program to its already impressive array of treatment options available to cancer patients in the region. Groundbreaking for the Varian ProBeam Compact proton therapy system is scheduled to begin in the spring of 2018 at UHealth Tower, significantly expanding Sylvester’s presence at that inpatient facility.

The Varian ProBeam Compact proton therapy system.

The installation of the ProBeam system provides another key option for Sylvester’s team of highly specialized radiation oncologists, led by Alan Pollack, M.D., Ph.D., professor and chair of radiation oncology, and a renowned genitourinary radiation oncologist. “Proton therapy is a technology that has the potential to improve outcomes in a subset of patients,” said Pollack. “One of the most exciting elements is putting this technology into the hands of the disease site experts that we have at Sylvester. That combination of precision and expertise has great potential for our patients.”

The Varian ProBeam Compact system is a highly advanced single-room system capable of fully rotational intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT), which allows the beam to be modulated around irregular shapes. Nesrin Dogan, Ph.D., the head of the department’s medical physics section, said, “The system is very fast and flexible, and will be fully integrated into the department’s existing Varian software platforms, providing optimal efficiency and safety for our patients.”

The full-featured ProBeam Compact system includes a cyclotron, Varian’s unique Dynamic Peak™ scanning technology for IMPT, a fully rotational gantry, robotic patient positioning, integrated cone beam CT, and a comprehensive suite of motion management tools. Installation of the equipment will begin in early 2019, with the first patients being treated in the first half of 2020.

“Sylvester’s proton therapy program will be unique for South Florida patients, due to the well-established multi-disciplinary teams that are already in place,” said Stephen D. Nimer, M.D., director of Sylvester. “Putting this precise technology in the hands of our radiation oncology experts demonstrates Sylvester’s commitment to bringing outstanding clinicians, researchers, and technology together to advance cancer research and provide additional benefits for our patients.”

Pollack added that proton therapy will be used for clinical research, expanding what is already a robust clinical trial portfolio. “Just as we have leveraged MRI-guided radiotherapy, gamma-knife and other specialty machines, we look forward to incorporating proton therapy into our available resources.”

Edward Abraham, M.D., executive vice president for health affairs and CEO of UHealth, and dean and chief academic officer of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said, “Bringing proton therapy to Sylvester demonstrates our dedication to pushing the envelope to uncover new approaches to treat disease. This is another example of the health system’s mission to invest in saving lives.”