Tampa General Hospital and FCS Collaborate to Bring Proton Therapy to the Tampa Bay FL Area

Partners | <b>Florida Cancer Specialists</b>

Through a new a new collaborative partnership, Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute plans to build a proton therapy center in the Tampa Bay area of Florida.

Tampa, Fla., Oct. 25, 2021 – Tampa General Hospital (TGH), the Florida Cancer Specialists & Research Institute (FCS), Proton Therapy Partners and Florida Urology Partners today announced a new collaborative partnership with plans to build a proton therapy center in Tampa Bay that would offer patients across the West Coast of Florida access to an advanced alternative to conventional radiation treatment for cancer and within the convenience of their own backyard. Under the support of a proposed LLC, the free-standing proton therapy center is expected to break ground in Tampa Bay in the second quarter of 2022.

“Tampa General Hospital’s vision is to be the safest, most innovative academic health system in America and that demands providing our community with the most advanced leading-edge treatment available,” said John Couris, President and CEO of Tampa General Hospital. “This partnership would allow us to do just that with expertise from best-in-class community partners and with the resources and support that only the region’s leading academic medical center can provide. We are excited to offer this as part of the medical district in Tampa and expansion across the state.”

Unlike traditional photon radiation, proton therapy delivers beams of high-energy protons to precisely targeted tumors. It has been proven to be an effective and recommended protocol in treating a wide range of adult cancers, from breast to head and neck to prostate cancer and pediatric brain and spinal tumors. Proton therapy is often the preferred treatment delivery modality when a cancerous tumor is close to a vital structure such as the heart, brain stem and the spinal cord.

“Proton therapy is the most cutting edge and advanced form of radiation treatment we have to offer our cancer patients. The precise nature of these targeted beams allows us to very effectively destroy cancerous tumors while reducing the likelihood and severity of side effects,” explained Dr. Richard Tuli, Chief of Radiation Oncology in the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine at the University of South Florida and Tampa General Hospital. “Its specificity of delivery allows us to treat hard to reach tumors, those wrapped around critical organs, and tumors that have come back after radiation. It’s also the safest form of radiation we have to offer our pediatric and young adult patients suffering from cancer.”

Up until now, the Tampa Bay region has been the only major market in Florida without a proton therapy center, forcing patients to travel to receive this cutting-edge treatment. This is especially challenging as the number of treatment doses can average between 30 and 40 over a set period of time, making it critical for those seeking treatment to be located near a therapy facility.

The new proton therapy center will operate under the auspices of the Cancer Institute at Tampa General, which provides comprehensive, innovative care through groundbreaking therapies and advanced diagnostic imaging tools to diagnose, evaluate and treat all forms of cancer.

The new proton therapy center born out of this collaboration harnesses the innovation and expertise of the region’s leading community providers with the region’s leading academic institution and medical center to provide personalized and enhanced care, all under one access point and in a free-standing location as opposed to in a single provider facility.

“This critically important collaboration is novel in its shared commitment to advancing best-in-class care, fostering innovation and bringing the latest clinical advancements into the community,” said FCS Chief Executive Officer Nathan H. Walcker. “Proton therapy extends our ability to realize the FCS mission of providing precision-based, personalized care centered around our patients.”

“Florida Urology Partners has always made providing cancer patients the highest level of quality care with the best technology available a core priority,” explained Dr. Raviender Bukkapatnam, President of Florida Urology Partners. “Partnering with TGH, FCS and Proton Therapy Partners to provide access to proton therapy is an extension of that, and we are excited to be able to provide yet another access point to our patients with this modality.”

“It is a distinct honor to be partnering with Tampa General Hospital, Florida Cancer Specialists and Florida Urology Partners to bring life-saving proton therapy technology to citizens of the Tampa and Southwest Florida regions,” said Christopher Dadlez, President and CEO of Proton Therapy Partners. “Our combined effort will ensure that cancer patients have access to the most advanced treatment possible to improve outcomes and change lives.”

Additional Benefits of Proton Therapy
In addition to the overarching benefits of proton therapy, there are many potential positive outcomes of proton therapy being explored with the growth of clinical evidence. These include:

  • Overall reduced complications and risk of secondary cancers
  • Overall reduction in both short and long-term toxicities
  • 31% increase in disease control for aggressive tumors at the base of the skull (chordomas) at five years
  • 27% reduction in overall risk of needing a feeding tube for oropharyngeal cancer
  • Dramatic reduction of negative impact on taste, nausea, and painful changes to the mouth in salivary gland treatment
  • 88% less radiation dose to the heart for left-sided breast cancer
  • 42% reduction in relative risk of developing a secondary malignancy in the treatment of prostate cancer
  • 35% relative increase in overall survival for Stage II & III lung cancer

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For more information, visit the FCS website.