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New machine to attack cancerous tumors at local hospital

WPEC

A hospital in our area will soon unveil a massive new method to fight cancer.

It’s called a cyclotron and it’s the only one of its kind in the United States.

The tool to attack cancerous tumors is so large it took a giant crane to get it inside the building.

For several months now crews have been working around the clock at the South Florida Proton Institute at Delray Medical Center, meticulously connecting wires and putting together the machine that doctors call a game-changer.

“We take protons and we inject it into the magnet and the magnet spins them around at about 97,000 times a second,” explained Dr. Tim Williams.

Williams says the protons then enter the patient’s body through a beam, targeting the cancerous tumors with extreme precision.

He says not only does this spare the normal tissue, but it significantly reduces some of the harsh side effects commonly associated with radiation.

“With protons, they will penetrate to a certain depth and then they stop, there’s no exit dose,” Dr. Williams said. “That is a huge advantage for us when compared to photons or x-rays which penetrate from one side of the body through to the other.”

He says proton therapy is especially beneficial when it comes to treating children with cancer.

“Whatever radiation exposure you put onboard, they are going to have to deal with for five years, 10 years, 30 years, 50 years in some cases; so you want to keep that dose exposure to the least amount that you can and protons are tailored made for that.”

Williams says right now there are 27 proton cyclotrons in the U.S. but this is the only model of its kind.

The only other model of it is in Germany.

Williams says their goal is to start treating patients this summer.

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