ST. LOUIS – Two years after its groundbreaking, the Mercy Proton Therapy Center is set to open to its first patient on July 5 at the David C. Pratt Cancer Center. The new facility will be one of only 40 proton centers in the U.S. and a valuable addition to treating complex cancer throughout the region.
Used as a radiation treatment for many oncology patients, proton therapy is an option for adult and childhood cancers. It uses a powerful cyclotron to produce proton particles that precisely target cancer tumors. The charged particles damage the DNA of cancer cells, stopping the reproduction and ultimately destroying them. One of the primary benefits of proton therapy is the reduction or elimination of unwanted radiation exposure to surrounding, healthy tissue.
The MEVION S250iTM Proton Therapy System® with HYPERSCAN® pencil beam scanning technology delivers high-quality, robust Intensity Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT) treatments at hyper-speed, giving patients the opportunity to get back to life more quickly.
“We know patients have choices when it comes to cancer care and when they choose Mercy we want them to know they have access to all the options for care,” said Dr. Robert Frazier, division chief of radiation oncology at Mercy Hospital St. Louis. “Each patient is unique so no two treatment plans will be the same. At the David C. Pratt Cancer Center, we now have all the most advanced radiation therapy technologies, both Cyberknife and proton therapy, making sure we offer what’s best for each individual during their cancer therapy.”
Because of its targeted delivery system, proton therapy is suitable for tumors near sensitive parts of the body. In adults, that includes areas such as eye, brain, head and neck, spinal cord, breast, esophagus, prostate, lung, bone, gastrointestinal, stomach, colon and bladder. In children, the precision radiation is even more important to limit damage in their still-developing bodies.
“While the Mercy Proton Therapy Center offers convenient access to patients in St. Louis and the surrounding areas, it will be an excellent option for Mercy patients as far away as Rolla, Lebanon, Springfield, Joplin and other communities along I-44,” said Steve Mackin, Mercy president and CEO. “With only 40 proton centers in the country, Mercy St. Louis will become a destination for advanced radiation treatment. We are so thankful to be able to offer this advance care to those who need it.”
The Mercy Proton Therapy Center is part of the Mercy Health Foundation’s $23 million Mercy Cancer Challenge to improve cancer services in the St. Louis area.
Mercy Hospital St. Louis, part of Mercy's east Missouri region, is a 859-bed comprehensive teaching hospital. The 80-acre site houses a nine-level heart and vascular hospital, a cancer center, a comprehensive children's hospital and a surgery center.
Mercy, one of the 20 largest U.S. health systems and named the top large system in the U.S. for excellent patient experience by NRC Health, serves millions annually with nationally recognized care and one of the nation’s largest and highest performing Accountable Care Organizations in quality and cost. Mercy is a highly integrated, multi-state health care system including more than 50 acute care and specialty (heart, children’s, orthopedic and rehab) hospitals, convenient and urgent care locations, imaging centers and pharmacies. Mercy has over 900 physician practice locations and outpatient facilities, more than 4,500 physicians and advanced practitioners and 50,000 co-workers serving patients and families across Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Mercy also has clinics, outpatient services and outreach ministries in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. In fiscal year 2023 alone, Mercy provided more than half a billion dollars of free care and other community benefits, including traditional charity care and unreimbursed Medicaid.