Friday, June 27, 2014

Radiation Oncology unveils proton exhibit

A CUT ABOVE: From left: Jason Efstathiou, MD, DPhil, and Ted Hong, MD, from the Department of Radiation Oncology, and Loeffler

In the 1960s and ‘70s, pioneering MGH radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons collaborated to become among the first to manipulate the high burst of energy emitted from a proton beam, known as the Bragg Peak, to treat cancer. By using protons rather than traditional X-rays, physicians delivered radiation doses directly and precisely to tumors, with less damage to nearby healthy tissue. In the decades since, the MGH Department of Radiation Oncology has remained a leader in treating cancer with protons; and patients travel from all over the world to receive this specialized treatment at the Francis Burr Proton Center. Most recently – to further increase proton capacity at the MGH and remain on the forefront of ever-changing technology – the department purchased an additional proton unit that will be installed in the Lunder Building.

“Through the pioneering work of many at the MGH and Harvard University, the unique physical properties of protons were brought from a research laboratory to the clinic, allowing thousands of patients to benefit here and now worldwide,” said Jay Loeffler, MD, chief of the Department of Radiation Oncology.

To showcase the MGH’s leadership and success in proton therapy, an exhibit recently was installed in the lobby of the center. One of the first outposts of the Paul S. Russell, MD Museum of Medical History and Innovation, the permanent exhibit was unveiled on June 19 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“This exhibit will allow patients and their friends and family to learn about the special history of proton therapy and to see a backroom view of all the components involved in the planning and delivery of this form of radiation,” Loeffler said. “The exhibit also will be a showcase for visitors to learn about one of the many fascinating developments of this great institution.”

Read more articles from the 06/27/14 Hotline issue.


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