Sibley Memorial Hospital to open proton therapy center in 2019

Washington, D.C.-based Sibley Memorial Hospital, part of Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Medicine, is constructing a proton treatment center for cancer patients, according to WTOP

The Johns Hopkins National Proton Therapy Center, which is scheduled to open next year, will feature four treatment rooms, including one room created just for pediatric patients and another room for research. The center will cost more than $100 million to construct. The hospital will also pay about $1 million in annual upkeep expenses.

Matthew Ladra, MD, a pediatric radiation oncologist at Sibley Memorial Hospital, told WTOP an estimated 80,000 patients worldwide have received proton treatment. Proton therapy works similarly to X-ray therapy by using radiation to target the DNA of cancerous cells. However, proton therapy is more precise, which causes less damage to healthy tissue.

"Radiation to a normal brain can cause an increased risk of stroke later on in life; it can cause problems with attention, memory and learning. Also, it can cause problems with hearing and hormone development, so we prefer to avoid [exposing healthy tissue to radiation] when we can," Dr. Ladra told WTOP.

MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, also in Washington, D.C., opened a proton therapy center in March, making it only the 28th such center in the nation.

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