Murray Provides $1.5 Million for Cutting Edge Proton Therapy Cancer Treatment Center in Seattle

Jun 21 2007

Proton beam therapy considered major advance in radiation therapy

(Washington, D.C.) – Today U.S. Senator Patty Murray announced that she has included $1.5 million in funding for the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance's (SCCA) Proton Therapy Center. Senator Murray included the funding in the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education (LHHS) Appropriations bill – the annual spending bill that funds healthcare priorities. Senator Murray is a senior member of the LHHS Appropriations Subcommittee. 

"This funding will help make Seattle the home of the next generation of cancer fighting technology in the Northwest," said Senator Murray. "It is another chance to expand innovation in our region so that we can attract talented healthcare workers, build our healthcare IT economy, and provide life-saving research and treatment.  I am so pleased to help support the efforts of the SCCA, which brings supporters of new technology and research together to provide the best treatment options to those in our region."

Proton beam therapy, which involves an external beam of radiation delivering proton ions within the body, is considered one of the major advances in radiation therapy.  The primary difference between proton beam therapy and conventional radiation therapy is the precise delivery of radiation to the tumor without damaging healthy tissues surrounding the tumor, a great advancement in cancer treatment. By not damaging surrounding healthy tissues, patients do not experience extensive side effects from the treatment, though some side effects may still occur. 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.

“The SCCA Proton Therapy Center represents the future of radiation therapy for cancer patients in the Pacific Northwest,” said Fred Appelbaum, M.D., SCCA Executive Director and President. “This formidable new treatment for cancer is especially important to children because it has fewer side effects than those from conventional radiation therapy. Senator Murray’s vital leadership in helping this important resource become a reality is greatly appreciated and will benefit many cancer patients.”

The Proton Therapy Center will be a Seattle-based, not-for-profit subsidiary of the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA). The SCCA's parent institutions are Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, University of Washington Medical Center, and Children’s Hospital Regional Medical Center.

The southeast Lake Union corridor is currently being considered as the future home of the SCCA Proton Therapy Center although identification of an actual location has not yet been determined.  The Proton Therapy Center would make treatment available to patients in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Alaska, Montana and Wyoming.

Now that Murray's funding has passed the committee, it will move to the Senate floor for consideration.  Senator Murray will continue to use her position in the Senate to improve healthcare access, affordability and innovation for residents throughout Washington state.