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Murray Leads Delegation in Securing $2.1 Million for Proton Therapy Center

December 21, 2007

 Steadfast support by Washington Sen. Patty Murray and the western Washington state congressional delegation has resulted in $2.1 million in federal funding designated to help development of a state-of-the-art proton beam therapy center by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).

Steadfast support by Washington Sen. Patty Murray and the western Washington state congressional delegation has resulted in $2.1 million in federal funding designated to help development of a state-of-the-art proton beam therapy center by the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). The money is included in the 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill signed by President Bush on Thursday, Dec. 20.

“The leadership of Senator Murray and Congressman Dave Reichert for this important regional resource for cancer patients is tremendously appreciated,” said Norm Hubbard, executive vice president of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance. “These funds are vital to help with the early capitalization of the project.”

“I am so proud to be able to help the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance to further their work of improving cancer medicine and saving lives,” Murray said. “This project is about helping science to move forward and providing hope for the millions of patients and families who suffer with the realities of cancer.”

“This funding victory will help make a promising new treatment a reality for patients fighting cancer, especially children,” said Reichert. “I was pleased to work with my colleagues to secure $1.4 million for SCCA in the Health and Human Services appropriations bill, and I’m especially proud that my advocacy brought home an additional $738,000 for this important new therapy in a separate spending measure. This success is a great example of how members can work together in the best interest of their constituents.”

The SCCA’s Proton Beam Center is projected to open in early 2012. The center will serve patients from the six-state Pacific Northwest region of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.

Proton therapy uses an external beam of precisely-targeted, high-energy protons. The primary difference between proton beam therapy and conventional radiation therapy is the ability to deliver radiation more precisely to the tumor without damaging healthy tissues. There are only five full-scale proton beam centers currently operating in the United States; the closest to Seattle is in southern California.

Proton beams are used today to treat many solid-tumor cancers such as those of the eye, skull base, head and neck, and prostate. However, the potential exists to treat many more types of tumors, including those of the lung, breast and abdomen. Researchers are particularly interested in the use of proton-beam therapy for children, who are more sensitive to the side effects of radiation than adults.

“Proton beam radiation is considered one of the major advances in radiation therapy to treat cancerous tumors,” said George Laramore, M.D, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of Washington.

“Proton beam radiation is a tremendous breakthrough in the care of children with cancer,” said Thomas Hansen, M.D., Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center CEO. “I applaud the efforts of Senators Murray and Reichert and the delegation for helping to deliver this state-of-the-art treatment to the children of the Northwest.”

“We are delighted to see the SCCA working to make this emerging technology available as a valuable treatment option for the physicians and cancer patients in our community,” said Gregg Davidson, CEO of Skagit Valley Hospital in Mount Vernon, a charter member of the SCCA’s growing network of affiliated hospitals and physicians throughout the Northwest.

About Seattle Children's Hospital

Consistently ranked as one of the best children’s hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, Children’s serves as the pediatric and adolescent academic medical referral center for the largest landmass of any children’s hospital in the country (Washington, Alaska, Montana and Idaho). For more than 100 years, Children’s has been delivering superior patient care and advancing new treatments through pediatric research. Children’s serves as the primary teaching, clinical and research site for the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. The hospital works in partnership with Seattle Children’s Research Institute and Seattle Children’s Hospital Foundation. For more information, visit http://www.seattlechildrens.org.

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