Cancer care

Work begins on Australia’s first proton therapy cancer unit

The southern hemisphere’s first proton therapy unit for cancer treatment will begin construction in Adelaide next month.

A ProTom International Radiance 330 proton therapy system is to be installed in the Australian Bragg Centre being built in the Adelaide BioMed Precinct alongside its sister building the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI).

The Proton Therapy Facility will be able to offer treatment for people with difficult cancers of the head and neck, brain, eye, CNS, skull base, sarcomas, gastrointestinal and spinal cord for which there is no comparable curative treatment alternative, SAHMRI says.

The unit, one of only three in the world, will be able to treat 600-700 cancer patients a year in an outpatient setting using higher therapeutic doses of radiation to tumours with pencil beam precision, according to its developers. This enables better treatment of localised tumours that are difficult to treat because of their close proximity to extremely radiation sensitive normal tissues. Thus the proton therapy unit will be of particular benefit in paediatric cancer population as an alternative to conventional x-ray therapy.

SAHMRI Executive Director, Professor Steve Wesselingh, says the new Australian Bragg Centre for Proton Therapy and Research will be able to offer treatment for Australian patients who currently seek Federal Government funding of up to $250,000 for a 6 week treatment course overseas in the USA or Europe

“The building’s three underground levels are dedicated to a facility that will not only deliver life-saving treatment to cancer patients, in particular children, but will provide potential for research to unlock further benefits of this relatively new field and be a training ground for proton therapy specialists from throughout the Asia Pacific region and beyond,” he says.

“This building will also facilitate innovation spanning a range of fields including research and development, clinical trials and training.”

Construction is expected to be completed in late 2023 with the first patients treated about 18 months later.

The SAiGEN Cancer Institute, a new independent genomics and immunotherapy facility dedicated to cancer research, will also be located within the new building.

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