Scandinavia’s first dedicated proton therapy center

Skandionkliniken,  the first cancer center in Scandinavia dedicated to proton beam treatments, will be be constructed in Uppsala, Sweden, perpetuating the city’s rich history in the development of proton beam systems for medical use. The center will consist of a proton-generating cyclotron, three beam lines, two patient treatment rooms, a fixed-beam research room and a dedicated pencil beam scanning nozzle.

Adopting an innovative approach to financing the total €100 million project, seven Swedish counties and eight local university hospitals have jointly invested in the new cancer center. Construction of Skandionkliniken on land adjacent to University Hospital is planned to begin later this year. The clinic’s first patients are expected to be treated with protons in 2014. When fully operational, about 1,000 patients a year will be treated at Skandionkliniken, with referrals from clinicians at Sweden’s University Hospitals in Göteborg, Linköping, Lund, Malmö, Örebro, Stockholm, Umeå and Uppsala.

The project’s design can accommodate future expansion. Over the years, research facilities in Uppsala have played critical roles in the advancement of Proton Therapy. In 1957, the Gustaf Werner Institute at the University of Uppsala was the second facility in the world to treat cancer with protons, duplicating a protocol used in 1948 at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in Berkeley, California, USA. Patient treatments continued at Gustaf Werner Institute until 1973. Following reconstruction of the research facility and installation of a new cyclotron, the Svedberg Laboratory resumed treating primarily brain and prostate cancer patients in 1989 using a fixed horizontal beam line. “Back in 2003, Swedish health care authorities and clinicians recognized that about 12 percent of cancer patients treated with conventional radiation therapy in Sweden were far more suitable candidates for proton therapy, especially children,” said Leif Lyttkens, Managing Director of Skandionkliniken. “That’s about 2,500 patients a year, far more than the single beam line at Svedberg could ever accommodate. We all agreed it was in the best interests of cancer patients that we pursue development of a national proton therapy center.”