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Proton Therapy Community Responds to GAO Report on Prostate Cancer

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Proton Therapy Community Responds to GAO Report on Prostate Cancer

Calls on Doctors to Fully Inform Patients

Washington, DC, August 7, 2013 — “A new report from the General Accounting Office (GAO) confirms the need for newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients to be certain that their doctors explain all of their treatment options, including proton therapy,” says Leonard Arzt, Executive Director of the National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT). The report, “Higher Use of Costly Prostate Cancer Treatment by Providers Who Self Refer Warrants Scrutiny,” reveals that physicians who self-referred prostate cancer patients in 2009 were 53% more likely to refer for intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) and less likely to refer them to other
treatments, including proton therapy.

The GAO report, which is based on a study of Medicare funded treatment, states that, “financial incentives for self-referring providers — specifically those in limited specialty groups –were likely a major factor driving the percentage of prostate cancer patients referred” for IMRT.

The NAPT and the Proton Therapy Consortium urge patients to ask their doctors to explain the risks, benefits and costs of all the appropriate treatments for their cancer. “Patients and physicians have a number of options when approaching prostate cancer,” Mr. Arzt says. “We believe that all options, including proton therapy, should be available through an informed decision making process. The choice of treatment will have an enormous impact on the patient’s health and ability to enjoy his life.”

Currently offered by 11 centers in the US that are affiliated with major academic universities and cancer centers, proton therapy for prostate cancer is clinically proven to benefit patients while causing fewer changes in quality of life than either IMRT or another form of radiation, 3DCRT. Proton therapy treatment also reduces the risk of a second malignancy, when compared with contemporary IMRT. Studies have demonstrated little to no decline in genitourinary and gastrointestinal function for men treated with proton therapy and a faster return to pre-treatment function, compared to standard X-ray radiation therapy.

Ninety nine percent of proton therapy patients believe they made the right choice, according to an NAPT survey released in February 2013. Conducted by The Brotherhood of the Balloon, the study included results from one fifth of all men who had received proton therapy for prostate cancer.

Of the total spent by Medicare for all services, only 1/10th of 1 percent (less than 1 cent) goes for proton therapy. Of the total Medicare paid for radiation therapy cost codes, only 2.04% (2 cents for every dollar spent on radiation therapy) goes for proton therapy treatments, while payments for IMRT account for nearly 60 percent (nearly 60 cents) of every dollar spent on radiation therapy.

The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) is a non-profit organization supported by proton center members and is “The Voice of the Proton Community”. The NAPT promotes education and public awareness for the clinical benefits of proton beam radiation therapy. Founded in 1990, NAPT is an advocate for the advancement and future access of proton therapy. It provides the number one website for patients, physicians, health care providers and the news media. NAPT’s site can be found at http://www.proton-therapy.org.

The Proton Therapy Consortium is a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to ensure availability and access to proton therapy for patients by educating regulators, payment providers, and policymakers on coverage issues. The Consortium promotes improving patient choice, facilitating appropriate use of proton therapy and encouraging cooperative research, and its members are world-renowned cancer centers that provide life-saving treatment to patients throughout the United States. Our members include Advanced Particle Therapy (in partnership with Emory University, Scripps Health & the University of Maryland), McLaren Health Care, The Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute, The Indiana University Health Proton Therapy Center, The Loma Linda University Medical Center, The Mayo Clinic, The ProCure Proton Therapy Centers, The Provision Center for Proton Therapy, The Texas Center for Proton Therapy, The University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, The University of Pennsylvania Proton Therapy Center, The Willis-Knighton Health System and University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University.

The Brotherhood of the Balloon was founded in 2000 by Robert Marckini. The group consists of 6,400 men who received proton therapy, or proton therapy in combination with other therapies, for prostate cancer. Members are from 50 US states and 33 countries. They represent 10 US proton centers as well as three proton centers in Europe and Asia.

Click here to view the entire press release.

Niek Schreuder Joins Provision Center for Proton Therapy as VP & Chief Medical Physicist

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Niek Schreuder, M.Sc. DABR, a board-certified medical physicist with significant experience in all aspects of proton beam radiotherapy, has joined the Provision Center for Proton Therapy as vice president and chief medical physicist.

Most recently, Schreuder served as chief medical physicist and senior vice president of medical physics and technology at ProCure Treatment Centers in Bloomington, Indiana. During his more than 22 years as a medical physicist, he has gained vast experience in project management, research and development and clinical training. He is considered one of the foremost medical physics pioneers in the world specializing in proton therapy.

Prior to joining ProCure, Schreuder was director of medical physics at the Midwest Proton Radiotherapy Institute (MPRI), now called the IU Health Proton Therapy Center, where he was responsible for all medical physics related matters leading to the first patient treatments. He also served as the medical physicist and project manager for the Indiana University (IU) Cyclotron Facility where he led the medical physics design effort associated with developing the MPRI facility. Niek Schreuder trained as a medical Physicist in South Africa and served as a division head of the operations and development division of the Medical Radiation Group at iThemba Laboratories for Accelerator Sciences (tLabs) in South Africa prior to moving to the U.S. in February 2001.

“The addition of Niek Schreuder to our team marks a significant milestone toward establishing a world-class clinical staff at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy,” said Mary Lou DuBois, President of Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “In addition to providing our patients the most advanced cancer treatment in the world, clinical professionals who are internationally respected are choosing to practice proton therapy right here in Knoxville.”

Schreuder has more than 40 published articles in peer-reviewed journals on various aspects of proton beam therapy, has authored and co-authored nearly 100 presentations at international conferences and has taught many courses on proton therapy.

As vice president and chief medical physicist at Provision Center for Proton Therapy, Schreuder will be responsible for key aspects of the center’s technical and clinical operations. This includes the commissioning and acceptance testing of all proton therapy and imaging equipment. He will also be responsible for the training of the facility’s staff of physicists, therapists, and dosimetrists. Additionally, Schreuder will develop and implement safety programs and quality control measures at the center.

Schreuder earned a BS in radiation physics, a Diploma in Datametrics, and an MS in physical sciences in medical sciences from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa. He has been honored two times with the SABS prize for most outstanding research in the field of radiation dosimetry and received the Meditech prize for the most innovative use of computers. Schreuder is a board-certified medical physicist and is a member of the American Association of Physicists in Medicine (AAPM) and the American Society for Therapeutic Radiation Oncology (ASTRO).

Proton Power: Dr. Marcio Fagundes Explains Proton Therapy to Farragut Chamber

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Dr. Marcio Fagundes, a board certified radiation oncologist, believes in the power of proton therapy and is sharing both his knowledge and his passion with the Knoxville community. Fagundes, medical director of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy and a physician with Provision Medical Group, spoke to a packed room on July 23 as the keynote speaker for the Farragut West Knox Chamber Speaker’s Breakfast. He explained the benefi ts of proton therapy over conventional radiation therapy and outlined how the Provision Center for Proton Therapy will work when it opens in 2014. Setting the stage for Fagundes’ presentation was Terry Douglass, CEO of ProNova Solutions and chair of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. Douglass, who was president and CEO of CTI Molecular Imaging from its formation until it was bought by Siemens in 2005, put it very simply in his introduction of Fagundes: “Protons change everything,” Douglass said. Fagundes said the use of proton therapy is a game-changer both for what it does and what it does not do…continue reading

Dr. Marcio Fagundes Speaks at Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce

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Dr. Marcio Fagundes, board certified radiation oncologist and medical director of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy, recently spoke to a sold-out crowd at the West Knox Farragut Chamber of Commerce networking breakfast on Tuesday, July 23. Dr. Fagundes educated the group of business leaders on the benefits of proton therapy, how it differs from conventional radiation therapy, and the treatments that will be available starting next year right here in Knoxville at Tennessee’s first and only proton therapy center. View the videos below to see the local media’s coverage of the event.


Former Olympian Scott Hamilton joins proton therapy board

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Former figure skater and Olympic gold medalist Scott Hamilton has joined the Provision Center for Proton Therapy board of directors. A cancer and brain tumor survivor who lives in Nashville with his family, Hamilton has been advocate for cancer research and treatment. He is a spokesperson for the Cleveland Clinic Taussig Cancer Institute and the founder of the Scott Hamilton CARES Initiative, which, along with his 4th Angel Mentoring Program, will be implemented in Knoxville. “This was a natural fit for us. We’re really excited about having someone who’s going to impact what we’re doing here,” said Terry Douglass, chairman of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy board. “He brings a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of commitment to education and research. He really wants to help, and I believe that the way he lives his life is similar to our core values as an organization.”

Provision Center for Proton Therapy Names Medical Director

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Provision Center for Proton Therapy Names Medical Director

The Provision Center for Proton Therapy announced today it has named Marcio Fagundes, M.D., as medical director. A board-­‐certified radiation oncologist, he comes to Knoxville from the ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City where he has practiced proton therapy and conducted significant research. He will start his new role on July 15.

“The addition of Dr. Fagundes as medical director is another important step in building our team of proton therapy experts,” said Mary Lou DuBois, President of Provision Center for Proton Therapy. “He is an extremely knowledgeable and experienced radiation oncologist and will be an invaluable asset to the proton center and its patients.”

Read more here.

Prone Position for Radiation Therapy

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After Ivy Berry’s last radiation treatment for breast cancer, she rang a victory bell three times. It’s a tradition for patients wrapping up their therapy at Knoxville’s Provision Radiation Therapy in Dowell Springs.

She is now cancer free. But a year ago, the 44-year-old Knoxville woman found out she had breast cancer after her first mammogram.

“They told me I needed to go ahead and have a lumpectomy right away,” said Berry. She had the surgery along with radiation therapy.

Provision Radiation Therapy Medical Director Dr. Allen Meek says that’s the gold standard when it comes to treatment.

But Meek adds, what isn’t standard at Provision Radiation is how the radiation is delivered.

Typically, patients are on placed on their back, in a supine position when the radiation beam targets the affected area. At Provision Radiation, Berry was placed in a prone position, on her stomach.

The breast is able to fall through an open area on a special table.

“With gravity, the breast pulls forward. Then you are able to bring the radiation beam in,” said Meeks.

Berry admits it’s not the most comfortable position but it is the preferred position for both her and her doctor.

Dr. Meeks’ concern with delivering radiation to a patient while on their back is the harmful exposure to areas of the body in addition to the breast.

“The main long term consequences we are concerned about are radiation to the heart and lungs,” said Meek.

When radiation is delivered in a prone position the heart and lungs are spared from exposure and any future potential medical problems.

Meek said, “One of the big concerns is that 15 to 20 years down the road, a patient can develop lung cancer from radiation to the lung.”

For Ivy Berry, radiation treatment in a prone position was the only way to go. She beat cancer this time and ringing the “ceremonial bell” at Provision Radiation Therapy once is more than enough.

ProNova Solutions announces $52 million investment, 500 jobs in Blount

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Medical sciences company Pronova Solutions is coming to Blount County, and it’s bringing 500 jobs and $52 million in capital investment, officials said this morning.

Officials with the Blount Partnership, Knox County, Innovation Valley, Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with officials from ProNova Solutions, this morning announced the company has agreed to become the anchor tenant at the Pellissippi Place technology research and development park. The park is on the Oak Ridge Corridor located at the end of the Pellissippi Parkway in Alcoa. ProNova, which intends to commercialize a next-generation, compact proton therapy system as part of the latest in cancer treatment technology, is slated to construct two facilities on 26 acres on the West side of the property to house its corporate headquarters along with a research and commercialization laboratory, according to a Blount Partnership news release. Its product strategy is to develop, produce and deliver a smaller, lighter and more energy efficient proton therapy system, officials said.

Read Knox News Sentinel full story here.

Read WVLT full story here.

ProNova to Locate at Pellissippi Place

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ProNova Solutions becomes Pellissippi Place’s first tenant

The Daily Times

By Robert Norris | bobn@thedailytimes.com

Pellissippi Place is about to put high-paying jobs in Blount County with a high-tech business that will serve the region and beyond.

State and local officials announced this morning at the Blount County Chamber of Commerce that ProNova — a new company that is pioneering development of a lower-cost cancer treatment system — will locate its manufacturing facility in the research and development center at Pellissippi Parkway and Old Knoxville Highway in Alcoa.

Continue here for rest of article.

The University of Tennessee is interested in Proton Therapy

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The University of Tennessee has expressed interest in becoming a potential research and academic partner in a new proton therapy center currently under construction in Dowell Springs. Legislation sought by UT and sponsored by Sen. Doug Overbey and Rep. Ryan Haynes would allow the university to pursue the development and funding of related programs and facilities by becoming the guarantor of up to $98 million of the project’s costs. UT’s participation would allow the project to directly benefit from lower interest rates, and those savings could be reinvested by the university. The project is being financed with $110 million tax-exempt bonds issued by the Knox County Industrial Development Board in November and funded by a consortium of financial institutions led by Fifth Third Bank. Details of the legislation are still being worked out with different stakeholders, but Haynes said it has the potential to be a tremendous resource for UT. “It’s a very creative and innovative way to help UT and our region become a leader in radiological services,” he said. “The method we’re using is unique.” Read the full article here.