NAPT celebrates 30 years of supporting access to proton therapy

National Association for Proton Therapy celebrates 30 years supporting access to proton therapy

By

The National Association for Proton Therapy (NAPT) announced it will host its annual National Proton Conference through a virtual experience. The online event, which will take place on July 24, 2020, is a celebration of the organization’s 30-year anniversary of supporting access to proton therapy, one of the world’s most advanced cancer treatments.

NEW PLANS, SAME MISSION

The NAPT was planning to host the 2020 National Proton Conference in Nashville earlier this year, with keynote speaker Scott Hamilton, an Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. and World Figure Skating Champion. However, the group was forced to shift their efforts to offer an interactive live virtual conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We knew in early March that it would not be safe for our attendees to travel and gather in person at our National Proton Conference,” says Jennifer Maggiore, NAPT Executive Director. “Just as it is vital for cancer care to continue in this pandemic, we felt it was important to support patients by ensuring education about advanced treatments continues for the proton therapy community.”

As part of its mission, NAPT supports increased awareness and access to proton therapy by providing education and bringing leaders in the field together. This is especially important now, with the travel concerns brought on by COVID-19, as many cancer patients who need proton therapy do not have access to it in their region.

In response to the global crisis, Maggiore says the NAPT quickly re-worked the logistics of its conference so the proton therapy community would not miss an opportunity to learn about the latest advancements in the field of Proton Beam Therapy (PBT). There has been significant research published recently supporting the benefits of PBT. The NAPT says the need to educate the community on that research in a timely manner validates their decision to move forward with a virtual conference.

WHAT TO EXPECT AT THE 2020 NAPT CONFERENCE

The original conference planned a special reception in Nashville to celebrate 30 years as the “Voice of the Proton Community.” Now, the online conference will feature a virtual Happy Hour with a nod to Nashville’s “Music City” fame.

“For the virtual conference, we are supporting the community of musicians who are unable to perform during the pandemic by hiring Nicole Zuraitas to provide live music at our virtual Happy Hour,” explains Maggiore. “We will toast to our 30-year anniversary at the end of the conference. This will be a great opportunity to engage with our proton therapy community in a safe environment.”

The conference will still include a speech from Hamilton, says Nancy Howard, 2020 Conference Chair and Vice President of Marketing at Provision CARES Proton Therapy. “We are honored that Scott Hamilton will kick off the conference with a welcome to conference attendees,” Howard remarks. “He is a cancer survivor and a true advocate for cancer patients and proton therapy.”

In addition to these festivities, the program agenda includes presentations from leaders and experts in proton therapy from Penn Medicine, Johns Hopkins Proton Center, Mayo Clinic and other leading cancer programs. These speakers will share their insight on relevant research and issues affecting cancer patients.

“During this pandemic, we have witnessed the decline in access to cancer care and major barriers for patients seeking preventative and curative treatment for cancer,” adds Maggiore. “It is more important than ever to strengthen our collaboration through shared knowledge to advocate and promote cancer care, research and access to the most advanced and innovative technologies available for cancer patients.”

MORE ABOUT NAPT

The NAPT began as the Proton Therapy Consortium in 1990. It is an independent nonprofit organization founded with the goal of educating and increasing awareness about the clinical benefits of proton therapy. Currently, its members include 37 of the nation’s leading cancer centers, some of which are comprehensive cancer centers as designated by the National Cancer Institute, as well as members of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

“NAPT evolved beyond my wildest dreams,” says Len Artz, one of the organization’s founding members. “It continues to make a profound difference in patients’ health and wellbeing. It stands on the shoulders of many proton community leaders over the years. It continues to grow as an organization and expand its outreach that makes me very proud.”

The NAPT states is mission is to work collaboratively to raise public awareness of the clinical benefits of proton therapy, ensure patients’ choice and access to affordable proton therapy, and encourage cooperative research and innovation to advance the appropriate and cost-effective utilization of proton therapy.

Provision CARES Proton Therapy is a member of the NAPT and shares a similar vision of making proton therapy a clinical reality. With locations in Knoxville and Nashville, Provision represents the only cancer centers offering proton therapy in the East and Middle Tennessee regions. As of June 2020, the centers have treated more than 4,000 patients with a wide range of cancer types.

Provision CARES Proton Therapy Orlando announces arrival of cyclotron in Hamlin development

By

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. — Provision CARES Proton Therapy Orlando is under construction in the Hamlin development in Southwest Orange County. The center will offer one of the most promising new cancer therapies available, proton therapy; and will utilize the latest advancement in proton therapy systems, the ProNova SC360 manufactured by ProNova Solutions, LLC located in Maryville, Tennessee.

On Wednesday, November 20, one of the key components of the proton therapy system, the cyclotron, will travel from Cape Canaveral to Hamlin on a flatbed truck along a FDOT pre-approved route. The cyclotron travel time is expected to take approximately four hours before arrival at Hamlin. The cyclotron generates the proton beam that is used to treat patients through the ProNova SC360 system. Delivery of the cyclotron is a milestone event in the construction of the proton therapy treatment center.

Once the cyclotron has arrived at the proton center, the Provision team, which includes personnel from ProNova Solutions, Sumitomo Heavy Industries, Ltd., Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co., will then begin the rigging and installation of the cyclotron into the new proton therapy center building. Following installation of the cyclotron, installation, testing and commissioning of the ProNova SC360 will continue as the proton therapy center building is completed.

The cyclotron accelerates a proton beam that is incorporated into the ProNova SC360 delivery system and then used to deliver this advanced cancer treatment. This treatment provides a means to treat the cancer and spare the patient with fewer side effects.

The Provision CARES Proton Center is located in the 17-acre Provision CARES Cancer Center in Hamlin and is a member of the Provision CARES Cancer Network. Provision CARES Cancer Centers with Proton Therapy are also located in Knoxville, TN, Nashville, TN and recently announced Kansas City, KS, where all Provision centers provide comprehensive and integrated diagnostic and therapy services for all patients and all physicians who need those services.

Provision’s leadership team, cancer center partners, and media will be viewing the cyclotron delivery from the construction site at 15775 New Independence Parkway, Winter Garden, Florida.

ABOUT PROTON THERAPY

Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer. Proton therapy treats tumors by directing protons into the tumor site destroying cancerous cells. Unlike with other forms of radiation, radiation oncologists can control both the dose and range of protons, which allows the maximum deposition of energy into the tumor. This reduces damage to nearby healthy tissue and limits negative side effects. Proton treatment can be combined with chemotherapy and biological treatments, depending on the cancer type, to provide better outcomes with less tissue damage. According to the National Association of Proton Therapy, there are currently 35 proton therapy centers in operation.

ABOUT PROVISION’S PRONOVA SYSTEM

An affiliate of Provision Healthcare, ProNova Solutions, LLC is committed to making proton therapy accessible to a greater number of patients and physicians worldwide. ProNova was founded by former leaders of CTI Molecular Imaging, which brought positron emission tomography (PET) technology out of the laboratory and made it a clinical reality for millions of cancer patients. Today the same team is redefining cancer treatment once again with the introduction of the first and only superconducting 360-degree compact proton therapy system. It is the only proton therapy system developed in a clinical setting, benefitting from continuous input from physicians, medical physicists, and therapists during design and development. The system includes state-of-the-art features such as pencil beam scanning and advanced imaging with cone-beam CT, all in a compact design.

ABOUT PROVISION HEALTHCARE

Provision Healthcare, LLC was formed in 2005 with the purpose of developing innovative healthcare solutions focused on improving patient care and clinical outcomes and developing support for research, educational and charitable causes. Provision has developed a unique, comprehensive expertise in proton therapy including Provision’s patient focused “Culture of Care” that distinguishes Provision from other proton and cancer center developers and operators that have a much narrower focus. The combination of unique expertise and an innovative, entrepreneurial approach continues to propel Provision towards a position of industry leadership with respect to both cancer care and proton therapy.

Innovative Cancer Treatment in Knoxville, TN

Celebrating the Four-Year Anniversary of the Most Innovative Cancer Treatment in the World and Available in Knoxville, Tennessee!

By

Many online blogs tell us the traditional 4th anniversary gift is flowers or fruit, but at Provision CARES Proton Therapy, we prefer cake! January 20th marks the 4th anniversary of operation for Provision CARES Proton Therapy Knoxville (PCPTK) providing the most innovative cancer treatment in the world, proton therapy.

(more…)

It’s like NASA landed in Franklin: Proton-therapy center nears completion

By

After nearly two years of construction, Provision CARES Proton Therapy Nashville is nearing completion of its $100 million cancer-treatment center — minus some areas of the roof.

That’s because crews still need to lower a 28-foot-diameter gantry — a structure about the size of an above-ground pool that rotates around a patient during therapy, allowing treatment from different angles —into place at the 45,000-square-foot facility.

PHOTO BY JOEL STINNETT

It will be the second center for Knoxville-based Provision CARES, which provides proton-radiation treatment for cancer patients. The Franklin campus will also include a 72,000-square-foot medical office building at the cost of $18 million. Both buildings are being funded by tax-exempt bonds issued by the Williamson County Industrial Development Board and are expected to be completed in the summer of 2018.

The gantry, however, is relatively light lifting over at the 11-acre site. In July, a 220-ton particle accelerator, almost the same weight as the Statue of Liberty, was delivered to the facility. Rod Manning, service and maintenance manager at Provision CARES subsidiary ProNova Solutions, said the massive piece of equipment, called a cyclotron, was lowered into place by a 440-ton crane, the largest in Tennessee.

“It’s like NASA landed in Franklin,” Manning said.

Proton therapy delivers a high dose of radiation through a beam and, according to Provision CARES Director of Medical Physics Marc Blakey, has fewer side effects than traditional X-ray radiation.

Blakey said he can plot exactly where cancer is in the body and attack it while sparing surrounding tissue.

“The beam enters and only goes as deep as the tumor. It doesn’t exit the body,” Blakey said. “This allows for a higher dose because we can avoid critical structures.”

The cyclotron acts as the engine in the process, producing beams of protons into one of three gantries enclosed with two-meter thick doors made of lead-reinforced concrete. Most treatments only last a few minutes; Blakey said the center could facilitate up to 90 patients a day.

The two-story building will also house work areas for Gilda’s Club of Tennessee and Scott Hamilton CARES Foundation. Hamilton is on the board at Provision CARES and will have an office at the center.

Tara Mullaney, vice president at Provision CARES, said the inside of the building is designed to feel like a hotel more than a medical facility. Each dressing room will be outfitted with TVs and will have their own themes. The waiting room will a kids play area and a large bell to be rung every time a patient completes the entirety of their treatment.

“Cancer patients are going through enough so we want to make them as comfortable as possible,” Mullaney said. “They are coming here every day so they get to know the staff and feel welcomed.”

Mullaney said that while proton treatment isn’t new — the first center opened in the 1990s — it’s still not widely known. She said that’s because the initial investment for equipment is so high and not all insurance plans cover the therapy, where treatment costs about $2,000 per visit.

The word, however, is spreading, Mullaney said. The Franklin facility will be the 26th proton-treatment center in the nation, up from 13 five years ago, and Provision CARES has plans to build three more centers, she said. Those will be in Orlando, New Orleans and China.

Mullaney said ProNova, a Provision subsidiary, is also designing ways to decrease the size of equipment, therefore making it less expensive to access proton treatment.

“We are always thinking of ways to get better,” Mullaney said. “Franklin costs considerably less than the center in Knoxville because of the reduction in size of equipment and smaller footprint.”

“It’s like NASA landed in Franklin:’ Proton-therapy center nears completion.” Joel Stinnett, Nashville Business Journal

cyclotron, Provision Healthcare, Franklin

Provision installs cyclotron at Nashville site

By

Provision Healthcare in expanding cancer centers and advancing proton therapy to Nashville, TN, with the development of the Provision CARES Cancer Center.

After months of excavating and building construction, The Provision CARES Cancer Center in Franklin, Tenn., welcomed the cyclotron, a key component—and the largest—to the new facility. This brings the center one step closer to treating cancer patients in May 2018. (more…)

Big news for Provision—and cancer patients!

By

Just four years after launching its research and development process, Provision Healthcare’s ProNova Solutions division has received FDA 510(k) clearance for its SC360 proton therapy system. This is the first and only compact 360 degree pencil beam scanning proton therapy system capable of treating patients at all angles without moving the patient, enabling the most efficient clinical workflows, improved accuracy of treatment, and patient comfort.

The first ProNova system is expected to be used for patient treatment at the Provision CARES Proton Therapy Center in Knoxville, Tennessee next year. (more…)

Provision grows proton therapy in China

By

China is excited about proton therapy and for good reason.

Officially, 3.5 million Chinese per year are diagnosed with cancer. And 2.2 million people die of cancer, according to the World Health Organization. In the U.S., 70 percent of those with cancer survive five years after treatment. In China, just 30 percent survive to their five-year anniversary. Treatment is hard to come by—there is less than one conventional radiation therapy machine per million people in China compared to more than 12 machines per million in the U.S., for example. And in China diagnosis often happens too late. (more…)

Provision’s 500th patient takes up insurance cause

By

For any cancer patient, the automatic question to a diagnosis is: Why me?

Lou Lovingood may not have the answer, but she’s determined to make the most of an opportunity, which is how she’s come to view her experience with breast cancer.

She is the 500th patient to graduate from treatment at the Provision Center for Proton Therapy.

The announcement was greeted Thursday with balloons, a gaggle of Lovingood’s family and friends, local media coverage and Provision employees dressed in pink.

“Six months ago, I had no idea there was another graduation in my future,” Lovingood told the gathering. “This was not my plan, not my idea and certainly not my choice, but in the midst of the storm we have certainly felt God’s presence and are grateful.”

Lovingood was diagnosed in February with bilateral breast cancer at the Knoxville Comprehensive Breast Center where a mammogram found a 2 millimeter lump in her left breast and a subsequent needle biopsy discovered another 6 millimeter lump in her right breast. She had a lumpectomy in March and was advised by her surgeon to consider proton therapy because of the exposure conventional radiation would give to her heart and lungs. Studies have shown that women successfully treated for breast cancer with conventional radiation therapy are at significantly higher risk for heart disease and secondary lung cancer years.

When she walked into the Provision Center for Proton Therapy for her initial consultation, “I was scared,” she said.

It was hospitality coordinator Sharon Bishop, herself a breast cancer survivor, who reassured her.

“She looked at me and said, “You’re going to be okay,” Lovingood said. “My husband says she’s director of first impressions. She really touched my heart.”

Bishop, who herself has suffered heart damage from conventional radiation treatment, also was the one who convinced Lovingood to treat her cancer with protons.

“She said, ‘I would have paid any amount of money if I had had the option of proton therapy,’” Lovingood said.

For the Lovingoods, it was a big choice to make. Lou’s insurance provider, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee has denied coverage of the treatment—twice. Provision physician, Dr. Tamara Vern-Gross, is appealing a third time. In the meantime, the family decided to commit to paying for the treatment themselves if necessary. Lovingood is the first Provision patient to receive proton therapy for bilateral breast cancer.

“We made a family decision that was what we were going to do no matter what,” she said.

Lou Lovingood stands in front of Provision's graduation bell with family and friends.
Lou Lovingood stands in front of Provision’s graduation bell with family and friends.

Provision Healthcare opened the proton therapy center in January, 2014, and since then has offered treatment to patients suffering from a variety of cancers including head and neck, lung, esophageal, prostate, brain, bladder, sarcoma, tongue, lymph and colon as well as pediatric cancers. The center, which has three treatment rooms, currently serves about 80 patients per month. Patients travel to Provision from across the country and around the world, including England, the Netherlands, Taiwan, Mexico and Brazil.

Lovingood’s experience with the insurance company, and her conviction about the benefits of proton therapy, have led her to see the opportunity in her breast cancer battle—urging insurance coverage of proton therapy.

“It makes me absolutely furious. It’s wrong for insurance companies not to provide the best possible care,” she said. “What I have learned is proton therapy is better, and it’s worth paying for.”

A21V0989
WBIR Chief Meterologist Todd Howell pays a surprise visit to 500th patient, Lou Lovingood.