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Proton Radiation Therapy Shows Ongoing Advancements Throughout Past Quarter Century
[July 16, 2015]

Proton Radiation Therapy Shows Ongoing Advancements Throughout Past Quarter Century

Since physician scientists from Loma Linda University's Cancer Center (LLUCC) developed and brought proton therapy into the hospital setting 25 years ago, the technology has saved thousands of lives and has shown countless advancements.

"Proton therapy's efficacy as a premiere radiation treatment modality for cancer and other diseases is being reaffirmed every day by the people whose care and longevity have been greatly enhanced by this remarkable technology," said Jerry D. Slater, M.D., chairman of the LLUCC Proton Treatment and Research Center.

Over the past quarter century, LLUCC has treated nearly 20,000 patients; and the hospital remains the premier proton treatment center in America through its continuous advances, ongoing research and unmatched experience. In conjunction with its yearlong 25th anniversary celebration, LLUCC has produced an infographic highlighting the program's growth and the therapy's ongoing development. Central to those milestones are:

1970 - James. M. Slater, M.D., joins the department of radiology at Loma Linda University, and the organization begins developing a dedicated section of radiation oncology for proton therapy.

1971 - Loma Linda University Medica Center (LLUMC) investigators develop the world's first computer-assisted treatment-planning system using ultrasound digital images.

1973 - Development of the world's first computer-assisted treatment-planning system using computed tomography begins at LLUMC.

1987 - LLUMC and Fermilab publish the engineering design report for the proton synchrotron and beam transport system.

1990 - The first patient is treated at the Proton Treatment Center as LLUMC becomes the world's first hospital-based, treatment-dedicated proton center.

1994 - The second and third gantries begin clinical operation, and construction of the cancer research laboratories building begins.

1997 - Based on a presentation by Dr. James M. Slater, research begins in the NASA-sponsored Loma Linda University radiation medicine radiobiology laboratories.

2010 - A robotic Precision Patient Alignment System, which further improves the accuracy of repeatable patient positioning, becomes operational.

2014 - Dr. David Bush and colleagues from LLUMC report excellent results from a five-year study on cosmetic outcomes of partial breast radiation therapy with the proton beam.

2015 - The James M. Slater, M.D., Proton Treatment and Research Center celebrates its 25th anniversary and has treated nearly 20,000 patients, more than any other proton treatment facility in the world.

Loma Linda's physician-scientists continue to research techniques and protocols to improve the efficacy of proton therapy treatment and to expand its use to heal previously considered "untreatable" forms of cancer and other diseases. Currently LLUCC researchers are involved in a number of research studies and clinical trials. Today, in addition to prostate cancer, proton therapy effectively treats tumors of the head and neck, along with lung, breast, liver and eye cancer.

"It has been extremely gratifying to realize how many lives have been saved and how significantly quality of life is enhanced through proton therapy treatment," Dr. Slater said. "Now as we reflect upon our past successes, we are more inspired than ever to search for even more effective ways to put this incredible technology to good use."

About the James M. Slater, M.D., Proton Treatment and Research Center

Established in 1990 the center was the first hospital-based proton therapy facility in the world. Today the center uses proton beam technology for many types of cancers and has treated more patients than any other proton treatment center worldwide. The center is part of Loma Linda University Health's comprehensive health system, which is widely respected as a healthcare leader that has pioneered work in such areas as organ transplants, proton treatment for cancers, cardiac care, physical rehabilitation, and acute pediatric and adult care as well as treatments for chemical dependence and other behavioral disorders. The health system - which includes Loma Linda University Medical Center and Children's Hospital, LLUMC-East Campus, Behavioral Medicine Center, Heart and Surgical Hospital, LLUMC-Murrieta and physician clinics - collectively sees over 30,000 inpatients and about 750,000 outpatient visits a year. Visit us online at

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