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Stanford University School of Medicine

Coming soon: The nation’s first hadron therapy center

Yesterday, Stanford Medicine and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System announced that they're collaborating to build the nation’s first hadron therapy center for cancer patients. The hope is that the first patients will be treated within four years.

So what exactly is hadron therapy? As I explain in an online story:

Hadron therapy uses beams of charged particles like protons, carbon ions and other ions to kill tumor tissue. Unlike photons or electrons, which release energy along the length of their path, the charged particles deliver most of their damaging energy in one burst inside the tumor. They are more effective at damaging DNA inside of cancer cells, and some studies have suggested they can effectively incite an immune response against the tumor. Charged particle beams can also be shaped to treat tumors of various sizes and shapes.

There are about 10 carbon-based hadron therapy centers in the world, but none in the United States.

Dean Lloyd Minor, MD, noted Stanford's commitment to personalized, tailored health care and said: “Planning for the hadron center embodies this commitment, as we seek to identify optimal ways to offer targeted treatment that both reduces harm and promotes healing.”

The center was also included in a new report on Vice President Joseph Biden’s Cancer Moonshot, as an example of an initiative that supports the moonshot’s objectives. Sridhar Seshadri, PhD, a vice president at Stanford Health Care, attended yesterday's White House event.

Photo courtesy of Sridhar Seshadri

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