Monday, June 2, 2008
The Michigan Daily- michigandailycom
LTH 5 52
'U' to pioneer cancer treatment
Equipment to cost.
By CHARLES GREGG-GEIST
Daily News Editor
The University of Michigan
Health System and an alliance of
other healthcare providers from
across the state are teaming op to
bring what they call the world's
most expensive piece of medical
technology to Michigan.
A proton therapy facility with a
$160-million price tag will eventu-
ally be osed for cancer treatment
in the state, bot so far it hasn't been
proven to be any more effective
than traditional radiation therapy.
For Robert Keith, the Univer-
sity's executive vice president for
medical affairs, the lack of scien-
tific proof isn't a problem.
"It's very, very appealing from
a theoretical standpoint," Keith
said. "There isn't data available
today that proves the effective-
ness of the therapy."
The therapy is different from
traditional radiation treatment
because it uses protons, instead
of light particles called photons,
to treat cancer.
Theodore Lawrence, chair of
the UMHS department of radia-
tion oncology, said the new tech-
nology would probably reduce
the side effects associated with
existing radiation treatments.
Proton therapy uses proton
beams that can be aimed mote
accurately than photon beams
and so should cause less dam-
age to the tissue surrounding
a cancerous tumor, Lawrence
The machine used to aim the
proton beam, called a gantry,
can weigh up to 100 tons, which
Lawrence said partially explains
why an entirely new building is
needed to house the equipment.
Me cited protection from radiation
as another reason for the $160 mil-
lion facility that could take more
than two years to construct.
The price of a comparable pho-
ton radiation facility would cost
about $20 million and can fit in a
normal hospital room.
Kelch said the project's high
cost was one reason to collabo-
rate with other health systems to
establish the proton therapy facil-
ity. He said the consortium hasn't
settled on a final business plan,
but the six institutions shared the
costs of preliminary research and
other early expenses equally.
The institutions are still negoti-
ating a location for the new facility,
but Keith said it would probably
be in the southeastern part of the
state because that's where most
Michigan residents live.
Lawrence said it was also
important to diffuse the costs
so that hospital administrators
weren't in such a hurry to recoup
their losses. He said an individual
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