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Murray Leads Delegation in securing $2.1 million for proton therapy center Leading-edge radiation treatment facility will be Pacific Northwest’s first


Contact Information:
Dean Forbes
(206) 667-2896
dforbes@fhcrc.org

SEATTLE – Steadfast support by Washington Sen. Patty Murray and the western Washington state congressional delegation has resulted in $2.1 million in federal funding being earmarked to help develop a state-of-the-art proton-beam therapy center by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. The money is included in the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill signed by President Bush on Thursday, Dec. 20.

“Proton therapy uses an external beam of precisely-targeted, high-energy protons. It is considered one of the major advances in radiation therapy to treat cancerous tumors,” said George Laramore, M.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Washington. “The primary difference between proton beam therapy and conventional radiation therapy is the ability to deliver radiation more precisely to the tumor without damaging healthy tissues surrounding the tumor. There are only five full-scale proton beam centers currently operating in the United States, and the closest to Seattle is in southern California.”

"The leadership of Senator Murray and Congressman Reichert for this important regional resource for cancer patients is tremendously appreciated,” said Norm Hubbard, executive vice president of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). "These funds are vital to help with the early capitalization of the project."
"I am so proud to be able to help the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to further their work of improving cancer medicine and saving lives," Murray said. "This project is about helping science to move forward and providing hope for the millions of patients and families who suffer with the realities of cancer."

"This funding victory will help make a promising new treatment a reality for patients fighting cancer, especially children," said Reichert. "I was pleased to work with my colleagues to secure $1.4 million for SCCA in the Health and Human Services appropriations bill, and I'm especially proud that my advocacy brought home an additional $738,000 for this important new therapy in a separate spending measure. This success is a great example of how members can work together in the best interest of their constituents."

The SCCA's Proton Beam Center is projected to open in early 2012 and will cost about $170 million to build and equip. The center will serve patients from the six-state Pacific Northwest region of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.

"Proton beam radiation represents the future of radiation therapy," said Fred Appelbaum, M.D., SCCA executive director and president. "We are excited by the possibilities it offers, both for patients and research. It is a formidable new weapon we'll have to combat cancer."

Proton beams are used today to treat many solid-tumor cancers such as those of the eye, skull base, head and neck, and prostate. However, the potential exists to treat many more types of tumors, including those of the lung, breast and abdomen. Researchers are particularly interested in the use of proton-beam therapy for children, who are more sensitive to the side effects of radiation than adults.

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About Seattle Cancer Care Alliance
Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, established in 1998, unites the adult and pediatric cancer-care services of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, UW Medicine and Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center. A major focus of SCCA is to speed the transfer of new diagnostic and treatment techniques from the research setting to the patient bedside while providing premier, patient-focused cancer care. Patients who come to SCCA receive the latest research-based cancer therapies as well as cutting-edge treatments for a number of non-malignant diseases under development by its partner organizations. SCCA has three clinical-care sites: an outpatient clinic on the Fred Hutchinson campus, a pediatric-inpatient unit at Children’s and an adult-inpatient unit at UW Medical Center. For more information about SCCA, visit www.seattlecca.org.