Scripps Announces Plans for Region’s First Proton Therapy Center

$185 million facility to offer advanced care to cancer patients

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San Diego – Scripps Health today announced plans to open the first patient care facility in San Diego County to offer advanced proton therapy to cancer patients. Groundbreaking for the $185 million Scripps Proton Therapy Center is expected in July 2010 and the facility is expected to be open for patient care by late 2013.


The facility will be built through a collaboration among Scripps Health, Scripps Clinic Medical Group and Advanced Particle Therapy (APT), LLC of Minden, Nev. The 102,000-square-foot center will have the capacity to treat approximately 2,400 patients annually. It will be built on a seven-acre site in the Carroll Canyon area of Mira Mesa, at 9730 Summers Ridge Rd.


For certain cancers, proton therapy offers a more precise and aggressive approach to destroying cancerous and non-cancerous tumors, compared to conventional X-ray radiation. Proton therapy involves the use of a controlled beam of protons to target tumors with control and precision unavailable in other radiation therapies. The precise delivery of proton energy limits damage to healthy surrounding tissue, resulting in minimal or no side effects to the patient. This precision also allows for a more potent and effective dose of radiation to be used.


The Scripps Proton Therapy Center will be just the second proton therapy center in California and the Western United States, and is expected to attract patients from across the West.


“Scripps is excited to help provide access to one of science’s most sophisticated weapons against cancer,” said Scripps Health President and CEO Chris Van Gorder. “This will be an immensely valuable resource for all of San Diego County and beyond. We see this as a major step forward, allowing us to provide the most comprehensive range of radiation therapy options available today.”


The new facility will include five treatment rooms, three of which will include gantries, which are rotational machines designed to deliver the therapeutic beam at the precise angle prescribed by the physician. The other two treatment rooms will have fixed-beam machines. The center will also offer:


  • MRI and CT scan diagnostic services in support of proton therapy
  • 16 patient exam rooms
  • Offices for 14 physicians


There are currently seven proton therapy patient treatment centers in the United States. They are located in Loma Linda, Calif. (opened 1990); Boston, Mass. (opened 2002); Bloomington, Ind. (opened 2004); Houston, Texas (opened 2006); Jacksonville, Fla. (opened 2006); Oklahoma City, Okla. (opened 2009); and Philadelphia, Penn. (opened 2009).


Patients will be able to access this treatment through a referral to a specialist credentialed by the Scripps Proton Therapy Center. Proton therapy has an established history of reimbursement by Medicare and private health care payers.


“Our intent is to provide broad access to cancer patients throughout the region,” said Dr. Robert Sarnoff, president of Scripps Clinic Medical Group. “Scripps Clinic’s radiation oncology specialists are national leaders in the field who bring extensive knowledge and experience to our medical management of this additional tool to treat cancer.”


A non-invasive treatment, proton beam therapy is usually performed on an outpatient basis and is considered most effective on tumors that are localized and have not spread to distant areas of the body.


Scripps Health will provide clinical management services to the center, and Scripps Clinic Medical Group will oversee the medical services. APT has arranged financing to build the center and purchase the proton therapy equipment from Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, Calif. Additionally, APT will manage and maintain the building and equipment. The architect for the center is Haskell Design Build of Jacksonville, Fla.


Varian will equip the facility with a fully integrated proton therapy system. The center’s superconducting cyclotron will feature pencil-beam (or spot) scanning, which allows for modulation of the proton beam’s intensity. This allows doctors to precisely shape the dose distribution to concentrate on the targeted tumor while sparing normal healthy tissue.


“With only seven proton treatment centers operating in the United States, we are honored to work with Scripps to provide a state-of-the-art facility that will treat patients from San Diego and beyond,” said Jeff Bordok, president and CEO of Advanced Particle Therapy, LLC.


Nearly 70,000 people worldwide have received proton therapy at centers in Europe, Asia and the United States. Patients typically receive approximately 30 treatments during a four- to six-week period. Each treatment lasts for approximately 15-25 minutes, after which the patient is free to carry on with daily affairs.


In addition to providing patient care, Scripps expects to be at the forefront of new and developing clinical applications as part of its proton practice and connection with other national centers.


Scripps has long been a leader in providing cancer care in San Diego. It opened the county’s first blood and marrow transplantation program in 1980, and during the past 30 years the program’s patient survival rate has doubled. Scripps’ robotic surgery program currently offers patients the widest range of options in San Diego. And Scripps is the only cancer care provider in San Diego to earn network accreditation from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer.


With more than 300 affiliated physicians, Scripps Cancer Center is a nationally recognized leader in cancer care, providing comprehensive care at its four hospitals and various Scripps Clinic locations. Scripps Cancer Center seeks to provide the best possible treatment and cutting-edge research trials for patients by coordinating medical expertise in the areas of clinical cancer care, community outreach and clinical, translational and basic research.

About Scripps Clinic Medical Group

Scripps Clinic Medical Group is a multi-specialty physician practice with 420 physicians representing 50 medical and surgical specialties. Scripps Clinic Medical Group and its physicians are world-renowned for research-driven care and medical specialty expertise offered at 10 outpatient locations throughout the San Diego region and within Scripps Health’s network of acute-care hospitals.

About Advanced Particle Therapy, LLC

Advanced Particle Therapy, LLC is a company that teams with clients seeking a complete turnkey solution to the implementation of a particle therapy cancer treatment center. The company provides its clients with facility planning, architectural design, equipment, construction, investment banking sources and services for debt and equity financing. More information is available at www.advancedparticletherapy.com.


Contact: Steve Carpowich
Phone: 858-678-7183
E-mail: carpowich.stephen@scrippshealth.org