First U.S. Proton Center to Incorporate Vertical CT Imaging Technology

In October 2016, the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center implemented a new approach to using standard computed tomography (CT) imaging technology for use in treatment planning.

Until now, lung cancer patients undergoing CT scanning and proton therapy normally were typically treated in a supine position. Research shows that when patients are imaged in an upright position compared to a supine, or laying position, motion within the chest was reduced and absolute lung volumes increased.

Using a ceiling-mounted CT scanning system, along with an in-house designed treatment chair, this new technique allows proton therapy treatment planning images to be taken with patients in a seated position. Since absolute lung volumes are larger in the upright position, we expect to better target lung tumors and minimize radiation to healthy lung tissue and adjacent organs resulting in lower toxicity.

Benefits for Patients

Patients undergoing treatment for lung cancer, tumors in the middle of the chest (mediastinum), and possibly some head and neck cancers are initial candidates for use of the vertical CT in treatment planning.

The seated position for imaging and treatment is expected to:

  • Provide a greater degree of comfort for the patient during treatment
  • Decrease tumor motion making the proton treatments more precise
Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center Vertical CT Scanner.
View Vertical CT Scanner Video

Pencil Beam Scanning

In 2014, the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center (“Chicago Proton Center”) became one of the first proton centers to use Pencil Beam Scanning (“PBS”) proton therapy to treat cancer patients. In early 2016, the Chicago Proton Center added PBS technology to its 360° rotating gantry treatment room. PBS proton therapy delivers precise, highly controlled doses of radiation, spot by spot, over a tumor, as opposed to uniform scanning proton therapy. The targeted control of radiation delivery decreases exposure to surrounding healthy tissues and critical structures.

Potential Benefits:

  • Higher radiation doses may provide better tumor control
  • Fewer side effects than uniform scanning proton therapy
  • Shorter treatment times
  • Increased treatment options for certain tumor types

Tumors Treated:

  • Head and neck
  • Brain/spine
  • Certain breast cancers
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Lung
  • Lymphoma
  • Prostate
  • Ocular
  • Pediatric
  • More complex tumors previously thought to be untreatable

The Chicago Proton Center is committed to the provision of clinically advanced care for the treatment of cancer, and is pleased to expand its PBS proton therapy technology for its patients.

Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center Pencil Beam Scanning.