A rendering of the new Provision CARES Proton Center, courtesy of Provision Healthcare
By BROOKE WANSER
A cancer treatment center specializing in proton therapy, an increasingly popular treatment, is set to open in the summer of 2018.
Provision Healthcare, a clinical provider and developer of cancer treatments, will open a Provision CARES Cancer Center on Carothers Parkway, across from Williamson Medical Center, said Dr. Terry Douglass, Ph.D., the executive chair of Provision.
Proton therapy, said Douglass, is a form of advanced radiation technology that impairs the DNA of cancer cells and causes them to die.
Unlike traditional radiation methods, a machine called a cyclotron is used to pinpoint cancer cells, targeting diseased cells while minimizing damage to surrounding tissue.
“It’s like using a rifle compared to a shotgun,” Douglass said of the therapy.
“We developed a new technology that is a lower cost, that uses smaller and lighter technology,” Douglass said of the 200-ton machine which is used to treat cancer.
In traditional chemotherapy or radiation techniques, side effects are common. But with proton therapy, Douglass said side effects are less pronounced; he also said numerous data support the use of proton therapy, including better long-term outcomes for patients.
The treatment is becoming more common for illnesses like prostate cancer, but studies show mixed results, not conclusively supporting the treatment as better than traditional radiation.
Proton therapy centers are popping up across the country. According to the National Association of Proton Therapy, there are currently 26 proton therapy centers in operation with 11 under construction or in development.
The Franklin location will be the company’s second center in Tennessee. The original campus opened in January of 2014 in Knoxville. Planned expansions in Fort Lauderdale and Orlando, Florida, are in the works, said Douglass.
Of the decision to be based in Franklin, Douglass said the surrounding health care centers and climate of technological innovation made it a good choice, noting Tennessee Oncology and Vanderbilt as two top-notch cancer treatment centers.
Douglass said the spot on Carothers Parkway, in a central location with easy access to the interstate, would make it easy for patients from Tennessee, as well as Kentucky and Alabama, to reach the center.
“These patients are here from four to eight weeks. They get five treatments Monday through Friday, then they have the weekend off,” he said. “We were looking for a site that would be amenable to the patients.”
“Being near the Williamson County Medical Center was very important to us as well,” he continued. “Franklin has just become a hub of healthcare services.”
In addition to the center, the company will build 72,000 square feet of office space, which Douglass said will house medical companies including Tennessee Oncology and drug discovery and trials for the Sarah Cannon Cancer Center.
Mary Lou DuBois, the president of Provision Health Partners, said the location will open some time this summer, and will hire 75 to 80 employees to staff the center.
“We’re about developing a culture of care that is totally focused on the patient and walking through and with them as they’re on their journey,” she said of center’s mission.
In 2005, Provision Healthcare was founded by Douglass in Knoxville. The organization operates as a for-profit healthcare solutions company, while both the Knoxville and Franklin cancer centers are non-profits.