First Proton Therapy Device Cleared in Canada

Zosia Chustecka

February 19, 2015

Canada has cleared the way for the use of proton therapy in cancer.

The Mevion S250 proton therapy system has become the first such system to receive a medical device license from Health Canada, the federal department responsible for public health. This system is now approved to be installed at cancer facilities across the country, says the manufacturer.

"We are proud to be the first system approved to provide this revolutionary treatment option for cancer patients in Canada," said Joe Jachinowski, president and chief executive officer of Mevion Medical Systems. "Proton therapy is a game-changing cancer treatment that specifically targets tumor cells, sparing the healthy cells nearby and potentially reducing the side effects caused by conventional radiation therapies," he added.

This is the main claim for proton therapy — that it targets cancer cells more precisely than traditional photon radiation treatment and results in less damage to surrounding healthy tissue and organs. However, there are few data comparing the two modalities directly, and some experts doubt whether there is much benefit, and proton therapy is much more expensive.

The manufacturer says that the MEVION S250 system "represents the most innovative development in proton therapy systems and a market shift away from the large, costly systems that are rapidly becoming obsolete technology." It envisages the installations of several systems across the country, instead of a single installation of a larger, more expensive proton therapy system, which would allow more patients to be treated for their cancers close to home.

The world's first MEVION S250 was installed at the Barnes–Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri, more than a year ago. The company says there are six further systems currently in the process of being installed in the United States (at the University of Oklahoma in Norman; Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey; Ackerman Cancer Center in Jacksonville, Florida; University Hospitals Seidman Cancer Center in Cleveland; MedStar Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, DC; and the University of Florida Health Cancer Center at Orlando Health).


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