The region’s only cyclotron will complete its 3,700 mile transatlantic journey from Belgium by arriving with a police escort from the Port Authority of Philadelphia to the Roberts Proton Therapy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, which will comprise a dedicated pediatric program administered by The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
The cyclotron weighs 220 tons, about the same as a 747 airliner, but is only 18 feet in diameter and 8 feet high. In order for it to be safely transported on paved roads, a special 19-axle, 200-foot long trailer truck was constructed.
The cyclotron’s job is to accelerate atoms to near-light speeds to create a healing beam of energy that can then be targeted to kill cancerous/malignant tumors with unprecedented accuracy, without harming nearby healthy tissue or organs.
For the final leg of its journey, the massively heavy, metal accelerator will be greeted by the Mummer All-Stars, marking the occasion that represents a landmark new option for the treatment of cancer in the Philadelphia region.
The cyclotron’s energy beam will be directed to five treatment rooms, each over two stories tall, making the Roberts Proton Therapy Center the largest of its kind in the world and the only cancer treatment center to fully integrate conventional radiology treatment and proton beam therapy.
The Proton Therapy Program will begin treating patients in 2009.
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia will be the first freestanding children’s hospital to provide a more advanced and targeted approach to cancer treatment. In the future, 60 to 70 percent of children who receive conventional radiation could benefit from proton therapy.
In addition, Penn has established a new relationship with Walter Reed Army Medical Center, through which proton therapy technology will be available to treat United States military personnel and veterans.