Photo of the day: New therapy center adds one more tool in the fight against cancer

Huntsman Cancer Institute on Wednesday formally dedicated the Sen. Orrin G. Hatch Center for Proton Therapy.

According institute located in Salt Lake City, cancer patients receive three primary types of treatment: chemotherapy, surgery and radiation therapy, which uses beams of energy to shrink a tumor.

Proton therapy is a sophisticated type of radiation therapy that uses pencil-thin beams of energy to kill or shrink a tumor. It is used for children and adults with cancer, particularly when the tumor is located near vital organs. Proton therapy kills the tumor while reducing impact to nearby healthy tissue.

Until now, the nearest proton therapy centers were more than 700 miles away, meaning Utahns with cancer who needed proton therapy would have to temporarily relocate to another city like Seattle, Los Angeles or Chicago

This $31 million facility is housed in a 7,450-square-foot, three-story expansion of Huntsman Cancer Institute. Once fully operational, it will treat 200 patients each year.

The equipment includes a 110-ton gantry — a moveable framework that allows the equipment to rotate 190 degrees around the patient — and a 15-ton cyclotron. It accelerates protons to two-thirds the speed of light. This precision technology allows the treatment to target the tumor from the best angles and miss important structures in the body.