McLaren’s Proton Beam Therapy Unmatched Precision & Power


The white box directly above is where the beam is delivered to the patient.

The McLaren Proton Therapy Center, located in Flint on the campus of the Karmanos Cancer Institute, has opened its doors and is providing new technology that destroys cancer with unmatched precision, according to Hesham Gayar, MD, Medical Director of the Center. “Proton therapy is a highly precise sub-atomic particle therapy that stops accurately at the targeted cancer. It makes cancer treatment tolerable and minimizes side effects,” Dr. Gayar reports. “I am proud to have the latest and most advanced proton therapy in the world here in Genesee County to serve Michigan, Northern Ohio, Indiana and Canada. This advanced technology delivers higher doses of radiation to cancer cells while sparing healthy tissue and organs, reducing side effects, resulting in strong cure rates and greatly lowering the risk of secondary cancer.”

There are many other advantages, says the doctor. Reducing the side effects from radiation makes it easier to tolerate and improves the quality of the patient’s life post-treatment. “Another advantage is that it can be used to treat cancer when a patient has been told nothing else can be done, even when the patient has had previous radiation treatments.” Covered by most health insurance plans, it’s worth every penny, Dr. Gayar says, adding that at McLaren and Karmanos, proton therapy is only used when it is deemed beneficial.

Dave Wood, the McLaren Proton Therapy Center’s first patient, rings the bell after finishing his 9-week Proton Therapy treatment. Wood began treatment on December 17, 2018. Cheering and celebrating with Dave are (L-R) radiation therapists Maureen Foster, Nicole Cygnar and Jason Newbill.

Proton therapy can treat many cancers, but it is especially effective for cancerous tumors in sensitive areas and an ideal treatment for inoperable tumors.

“Many patients who have been treated at our facility for prostate, brain, kidney, lung, pancreas, and head and neck cancers have had minimal, or no side effects,” explains Dr. Gayar. “When proton therapy is used on breast cancer located in the left breast, we can assure to spare the heart radiation that could not be avoided with conventional X-ray radiation. Other cancers like sarcoma, cancers located in the spine, base of the skull, select colon and female cancers could also be treated with proton therapy.”

“I’m so proud that we offer the best and the latest in proton therapy right here in mid-Michigan for our patients here and beyond.”
Hesham E. Gayar, MD

According to Dr. Gayar, there is an expert team of doctors and nurses, physicists, engineers and proton specialists who all work together to make sure the treatment is properly implemented, designed and delivered. The team collaborates to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient unique to his or her situation and cancer.

The McLaren Proton Therapy Center is one of only 28 such facilities in the U.S. Patients have come to Flint seeking treatment from all around Michigan. “We’ve had patients from the Upper Peninsula and all over Michigan and Ohio,” Dr. Gayar reports, adding that nearly 2,000 therapy treatments have been completed at the Center without any concerning side effects. “I’m so proud that we offer the best and the latest in proton therapy right here in mid-Michigan for our patients here and beyond.”

The radiance 330 synchrotron (right forefront) is where the protons are separated from the atom and accelerated. It is connected to the beamline, which spans the length from the synchrotron to all three treatment rooms. the protons travel down the beamline at extremely high speed to the gantry, which delivers the pencil beam radiation to the patient.

Another plus for people who come from far away for treatment at the McLaren Proton Therapy Center, is the Hospitality House. Located adjacent to the Center, it provides convenient, comfortable and low-cost lodging options – a home-away-from-home for patients and their families.

Dr. Gayar has been involved with the Proton Therapy Center since its inception. “I call this a dream come true – having this great technology,” he says. “I have treated patients who had been told they could not tolerate any more radiation and we were able to help them. We can treat patients with tough cancers, early and advanced-stage cancers. We’ve seen complete, positive responses from proton therapy treatments. It makes me proud that we can deliver this life-changing technology right here in Genesee County.”

Left:The path of the gigantic gantry (Right) as it rotates 180 degrees for treatment. The gantry’s rotation, coupled with the robotic couch in the treatment room allows a 360-degree rotation and unlimited treatment angles.

Major Advances in McLaren’s Proton Therapy Center

When it comes to proton therapy, McLaren Proton Therapy Center is implementing several major advances:

Pencil-beam scanning and a state-of-the-art delivery system ensure that the distribution of radiation is very precise. With pencil-beam scanning, a focused set of proton beams (as small as a few milligrams in diameter) can target the tumor. This considerably reduces radiation exposure to healthy tissues.

Isocentric gantries with 180-degree rotation and highly sophisticated robotic patient-positioning systems enable incredible flexibility of beam delivery, which allows the radiation beam to be directed with incredible accuracy – down to the millimeter. Coupled with a robotic couch, this technology allows for 360-degree rotation and unlimited treatment angles.

The Radiance 330 synchrotron generates proton beams with energies up to 250-megaelectron volts (MeV). It produces less harmful radiation and less scatter radiation, because it uses pencil-beam technology.

Source: McLaren Therapy Center


Photography by Kayce McClure and Photos Provided by Mclaren


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