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.