Proton therapy is an alternative to traditional radiation treatment. Radiation can cause profound side effects in children treated for cancer. Proton therapy can potentially decrease these side effects by only directing the radiation at cancer cells. The Cancer Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has taken the lead in this breakthrough new treatment by investing in the Roberts Proton Therapy Center.
Advancing Pediatric Cancer Treatment at CHOP's Proton Therapy Center
John M. Maris, MD: My name is John Maris. I am the Chief of the Division of Oncology here at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Proton Therapy is a miracle of modern physics. It's a way to re-engineer how radiation therapy is done and by using protons, one is able to get away from the standard type of radiation. And protons give the ability to aim the beam in a much more precise fashion, hit the tumor cells and not normal cells in the body. It is an effective means of radiation, but the important thing for children, in particular, is that it will decrease potential side effects of radiation therapy dramatically, and that's why we're so excited about it.
The Children's Hospital Philadelphia has the resources to invest in something like this because the mission is to save lives, but to do so with quality. And I think that here, we have the opportunity to really take the lead in implementing this technology. But the Proton Radiation Therapy Center is the world's first proton center that was designed with the child in mind. And what I mean by that is that the concept of getting radiation therapy, whether it's conventional or proton, and even more so proton, can be extremely scary to a child and a family. We've had the opportunity to warm it up, to make it as child-friendly as something like this to be, to build into it child-life therapists and play therapists, and dedicated, experienced pediatric nursing staff, radiation therapy staff, individuals who are used to the care of children in an environment that is designed for the child.
The other very important factor of this is being a center that it was designed with children in mind from the beginning, is that we should be able to treat a lot of children with a variety of different cancers from a variety of different areas. The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia can provide a home for that several weeks of radiation therapy where they can get not only the radiation therapy, but all the other care that goes around caring for a child with cancer.