The Amsterdam institutes are joining HollandPTC so that their patients get faster access to proton therapy while their therapists remain actively involved in the treatment and gain knowledge about proton therapy. The Amsterdam practitioners are also actively participating in the development of knowledge and improvement of proton therapy that takes place at HollandPTC. This is possible because HollandPTC uses a new collaboration concept. It is an open workplace for the radiotherapeutic community where seconded medical specialists and researchers from Erasmus MC, LUMC, TU Delft - and now also Amsterdam UMC and the Netherlands Cancer Institute - and other partners in the Netherlands and abroad collaborate with the HollandPTC colleagues.
Determining the clinical value of proton therapy as a complement to other forms of cancer is - in addition to patient care, education and the technological improvement of proton therapy - the main objective of HollandPTC. In order to realize this mission, a check of 2.7 million euros was handed over to the first seven research groups for joint research into the best possible proton therapy.
"This collaboration is a real win-win situation," says Hans Romijn, CEO of AMC, on behalf of Amsterdam UMC. "Proton therapy requires considerable investments, and we can see whether the construction of our own center with the Netherlands Cancer Institute is justified while our patients and doctors have easy access to this new therapy through HollandPTC." Chairman of the Board of Directors and Scientific Director of the Netherlands Cancer Institute René Medema: "From a scientific point of view, we can speak of a unique situation because we will be part of a research consortium where the knowledge of three academic medical centers, our institute and a technical university is combined." Ernst Kuipers, Chairman of the Board of Directors Erasmus MC, who signed on behalf of the three founders, states: "For the Dutch care for cancer patients, this collaboration means that you can really get results. Care will be more readily available and, with the TU Delft on board, we will be able to technically improve the treatment more quickly." Willy Spaan, Chairman of the Board of Directors LUMC: "Thanks to this collaboration, we can see whether more tumor types can be treated with proton therapy than the current ones that are known. That way we can help even more patients. "Technical universities will have to play an increasingly larger role in medical innovation," says Tim van der Hagen, Rector Magnificus of TU Delft, over the added value of technological knowledge in the clinic. "The professions of physician and engineer will be intertwined faster." Marco van Vulpen, Medical Director HollandPTC: "We hope to welcome the first patients and colleagues from Amsterdam soon."
Most patients are irradiated with photons (X-ray beams). A bundle of photons delivers its dose in front of, in and behind the tumor. In proton therapy, the bundle does not release a dose behind the tumor, which means the tissue surrounding the tumor is less damaged. As a result, the radiation dose in the healthy tissue is lower and the chance of side effects smaller. Proton therapy may also be used to give a higher dose to the tumor if radiotherapy with photons is not possible. Proton therapy is suitable for patients with specific forms of cancer in vulnerable areas. At present, proton therapy is a standard indication for children with tumors, tumors in the eye and certain tumors in the spine. People with tumors in the head and neck, lung cancer, breast cancer and prostate cancer can get proton therapy if a plan comparison with photons shows that they have a clear advantage in radiation with protons as opposed to photons. The professional group in the Netherlands is developing protocols for other patient groups, such as patients with breast cancer and lung cancer.
HollandPTC has three treatment rooms, the first of which is now in use. The second treatment room will be operational within the foreseeable future. The third, which is the only one in the Netherlands equipped for the treatment of patients with eye tumors, will open in the course of 2019. HollandPTC is also a workplace for multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research with a special research proton installation and laboratories.