The UF Health Proton Therapy Institute treated its first patient on August 14, 2006, becoming the fifth proton therapy center in the U.S. and the first in the Southeast. Established as an academic clinical treatment and research center, the Institute during its first 12 years has rapidly made a significant impact on patient care and proton therapy techniques used to treat cancer.
Pediatric patients have been a major focus since day one. It is now widely recognized that proton therapy is the standard of care for children needing radiation treatment for cancer. Because proton therapy is targeted, less radiation is given to the healthy tissues of children who are still growing and are more susceptible to side effects of radiation. The Institute has the largest pediatric proton therapy program in the world, treating about 25 to 30 children each day.
As a regional resource, the Institute has treated more than 7,700 patients since opening, including 1,600 children. Patients have come from the Jacksonville area, all 50 states and 32 countries for the advanced radiation treatment delivered by the renowned team of cancer experts at the University of Florida.
The Institute is active in clinical research, and 98 percent of patients participate in outcomes studies. This rigorous follow-up has resulted in more than 133 articles published in peer-reviewed medical journals. The evidence points to an important role for proton therapy in treating cancer and confirms it is effective, safe and reduces side effects for many types of cancer.
This year, the Institute is heading up a national, large-scale prostate cancer clinical trial that will compare proton therapy and standard radiation patient outcomes. Later this fall, the facility expansion project will reach a major milestone when the new cyclotron arrives. This addition, when complete, will mean more access to proton therapy for patients across the region for years to come.