Proton beam therapy center to open in New Orleans

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Proton beam therapy center to open in New Orleans

24 Apr, 2017

New Orleans will soon be getting a new $100 million proton beam therapy center for treating patients with cancer. The Tennessee-based Provision Healthcare will begin construction on the 30,000-square-foot center later this year.

Proton beam therapy is a type of radiation therapy that uses high-energy molecules called protons to destroy cancer cells. It is a painless, external beam procedure. It may be used alone or in combination with other therapies, such as chemotherapy. Proton beam therapy can be very targeted, thus minimizing the damage to healthy tissue surrounding the tumor.

Side effects of proton beam therapy are relatively few compared to other radiation therapies and include fatigue and skin irritability. However, the risk of developing side effects depends on a variety of factors like the part of the body being treated and the size of the tumor. The therapy is not useful to treat all types of cancers and is most frequently used on tumors near delicate parts of the body such as the eye, brain, and spinal cord.

Relatively new, proton beam therapy requires expensive equipment, which speaks to why there are only two dozen in the country that offer the therapy. The nearest centers to the one opening in New Orleans are in Shreveport and Houston.

The expensive nature of the therapy has also caused a lot of controversy in the science and medical communities. As the most costly therapeutic device in the history of medicine, physicians and scientists question whether the added-value of the therapy justifies the cost. 

New Orleans officials foresee that the new center will develop New Orleans’ reputation as a regional leader in cancer care. Furthermore, the addition of the center will create 60 new jobs with an average salary of $100,000 plus benefits. Provision Healthcare has secured a $1 million performance-based grant paid in five annual installments starting in 2020 from state economic development officials. The company has also pursued funding from other economic stimulus programs.  

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