Miami Cancer Institute at Baptist Health South Florida welcomed the future of cancer care with the arrival of its 220-ton proton therapy cyclotron on June 14.
As the cornerstone of the only proton therapy center in South Florida, the cyclotron’s arrival ensures that patients in the region and across Latin America and the Caribbean no longer will need to travel far from home to access the treatment. The technology will offer pencil beam scanning — the most precise form of proton radiation treatment.
Proton therapy destroys cancer cells with highly targeted doses of radiation while avoiding healthy tissue and minimizing side effects, making it particularly effective in treating childhood cancers and adult cancers of the brain, liver and lung, as well as certain left-sided breast cancers and prostate cancers. Proton therapy treatment will be available at Miami Cancer Institute beginning in 2017.
“The arrival of the cyclotron signifies the beginning of the most sophisticated cancer treatment technology in the history of our organization,” said Brian E. Keeley, president and CEO of Baptist Health South Florida. “This historic milestone is not just one for Baptist Health to celebrate, but one for our entire community as we come together in the fight against cancer,” Keeley added.
“This is the most cutting-edge proton therapy technology available,” said Minesh Mehta, MD, deputy director of the Miami Cancer Institute and chief of radiation oncology. “It uses a pencil-beam approach, allowing us to target more complicated tumors and, for most situations, further decreases radiation exposure to normal tissues in comparison to older proton techniques.
“That means that there is significantly less damage to healthy tissue, a decrease in side effects and less chance of a recurrence of cancer due to radiation exposure.”
The cyclotron began its 4,700-mile transatlantic journey from Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium. After arriving at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, the cyclotron was loaded onto a flatbed truck operated by two drivers who made the overnight drive to Miami. By daylight, a 140-ton gantry crane began to lift the cyclotron into its permanent home at Miami Cancer Institute. The new $430 million, state-of-the-art facility situated on the campus of Baptist Hospital of Miami is scheduled to open later this year.
“The moment the proton therapy unit arrives and becomes operational, the way we care for patients in South Florida will change,” said Michael J. Zinner, MD, founding CEO and executive medical director of Miami Cancer Institute. “Miami Cancer Institute will be among the very few facilities worldwide to provide every available radiation therapy technology all in one location.
“Combined with our commitment to caring for patients from their diagnosis, through their complex treatment and onto survivorship, we ensure that we’re right alongside them and their families during this journey.”
In March 2015, Baptist Health South Florida signed an agreement with IBA, the world’s leading provider of proton therapy solutions for the treatment of cancer.
“We are very pleased that Miami Cancer Institute selected IBA as their partner to bring the most advanced proton therapy to their patients in South Florida as well as the Latin America region,” said Beth Klein, president of IBA PT North America. “Our 30-plus years of experience elicits confidence in our ability to support the swift construction and installation of this equipment, which means providing faster access to the technology for their patients.”
Baptist Health South Florida is developing Miami Cancer Institute into a destination cancer center known for its leading clinical care, exceptional patient experience, advanced clinical research and state-of-the-art technology — including the first proton therapy center in South Florida, Latin America and the Caribbean.
To accelerate its mission of hope, caring and innovation, Miami Cancer Institute has announced plans to join the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Alliance, a dynamic partnership that will ultimately enable cancer patients to access potential breakthrough therapies in South Florida. Miami Cancer Institute is part of Baptist Health South Florida, the largest healthcare organization in the region.
For more information, visit MiamiCancerInstitute.com.