UAB Unveils $50 Million Proton Cancer Therapy Center

Courtesy of University of Alabama at Birmingham

The University of Alabama at Birmingham has unveiled that it will partner with Proton International to bring a proton therapy center to Alabama, the first in the state. The $50 million project will be constructed at the current parking lot 55 at the corner of 20th Street and 5th Avenue South.

Proton therapy is one of the most technically advanced forms of cancerous radiation treatment. It delivers a precise dose of radiation to a tumor, without seriously affecting surrounding areas. According to the UAB School of Medicine, these protons must accelerate to around 114,000 miles per second in order to be focused on one specific tumor. When the protons reach the tumor, their positive charge destroys the cells’ DNA and causes them to die.

The new Proton Therapy Center will house a 90-ton machine called a cyclotron, which is the machine used to accelerate the protons. Inside this massive machine is a superconducting magnet cooled by liquid helium that causes the protons to spiral until they reach 60% the speed of light. They are then funneled into a beam that is used to treat the cancer patient’s specific tumor.

The center at UAB will be one of only 25 other Proton Therapy Centers in the nation. It will be able to treat patients with many forms of solid cancer tumors such as those found in the brain, lungs, prostate, and spine. Chris Chandler, CEO of Proton International, told UAB:

“Proton therapy is already having a tremendous impact on the health of people around the world. Experts conservatively estimate that about 250,000 cancer patients in the United States alone could benefit from proton therapy. We are excited to partner with UAB and put this outstanding tool into the hands of the best oncologists in Alabama.”

Proton International will build and own the facility. However, the medical staff will be exclusively from UAB. Construction on the three-story building will begin this summer and will take…

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