Jacksonville, FL — People from around the world travel to our own backyard for cutting-edge medical treatment.
Starting next week, patients at UF Health Proton Therapy Institute will have access to the newest and most advanced proton therapy treatment on the market.
Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses protons rather than traditional X-rays.
Thursday, Action News Jax got a behind-the-scenes tour of the new state-of-the-art cancer treatment technology at the facility.
The new addition is a single-room proton therapy system known as Proteus®ONE. It’s the centerpiece of the facility’s $39 million expansion.
Dr. Danny Indelicato, director of the Pediatric Proton Therapy Program at UF, said the Proteus® ONE uses precise, targeted radiation.
“We can use this device to deliver higher doses of radiation to the tumor and avoid nearby normal organs, hopefully decreasing side effects both short-term and long-term,” Indelicato said.
He said one of the unique features of the room is an ambient package that allows patients to change the color of the lights, music and scenery projected on the wall.
“Allowing them to relax it makes it a lot easier for us to deliver the precision of radiation that this machine is built for,” Indelicato said.
Steven Fitzgerald will be one of the first patients to receive the new treatment.
He’s being treated for craniopharyngioma which is a type of benign tumor.
“It’s currently pressing on my optic nerve behind my eye which has caused a lot of vision loss and vision damage,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald was diagnosed with a brain tumor the size of a golf ball in 2014.
He underwent several surgeries, but it started to grow again in August.
His father said he’s excited about the advanced system and hopes it will help him live a better life.
Phase 3 of the expansion will begin soon. It involves the installation of a dedicated pencil beam scanning nozzle in one original gantry.
The expansion is expected to be complete in 2021.
The institute will have the ability to treat 25% more patients.