From Europe to Lancaster: Cyclotron’s delivery marks milestone in cancer center’s newest addition | Local News

Eufemia Didonato

A 210-foot-long trailer truck delivered Lancaster’s next weapon in fighting cancer on Saturday afternoon, carrying a central piece of Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health’s proton center.

The 20-axle truck delivered a cyclotron to the Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute on Harrisburg Pike. A cyclotron is one of three essential pieces for the health center’s proton center, which is slated for completion in 2022.

It will be only the second proton center in the state, and one of 30 in the country, according to Dr. Ken Blank, medical director of radiation and oncology at the institute.

The cyclotron is relatively compact, at 18 feet wide and 8 feet tall. But it weighs in at 220 tons and will be the centerpiece of the proton center, which treats patients with an extremely focused beam of radiation.

“The cyclotron accelerates atoms to near-light speeds to create a healing beam of energy that can then be targeted to kill cancerous (and) malignant tumors with unprecedented accuracy, without harming nearby healthy tissue or organs,” Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health said in a news release.

When the proton center is completed, it will add a better, closer option of treatment for cancer patients in Central Pennsylvania, Blank said. The only other close proton treatment centers are in Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York.

The treatment will ideally work in conjunction with other treatments, like chemotherapy. But, because of its accuracy, it is especially useful for cancerous tumors near critical organs, Blank said. It also has fewer side effects, which makes for a better quality of life.

The cyclotron will be installed on Monday, Jan. 18, being placed into its final home after making its way to Lancaster from Europe.

“This is very rare,” Blank said. “But, again, this is very special.”

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