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Power & Precision: Proton therapy arrives in Georgia

Combining the latest advances in radiation technology, engineering, and medical physics, Winship physicians will employ proton therapy to deliver a treatment precisely where needed—with less spillover to adjacent healthy tissue. That means less radiation exposure to normal tissues and the potential for fewer side effects and complications, especially for cancers near sensitive organs, and for children whose tissues are still developing.

The new three-story, 108,000 square foot Emory Proton Therapy Center officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Dec. 6. 

Bree Eaton and Natia Esiashvili, another Winship radiation oncologist trained in pediatric proton therapy, will treat children at the proton center while continuing to care for children at Winship. Eaton estimates the two doctors will treat 75 to 100 pediatric patients with proton therapy in the first year, with that number growing as the center ramps up.

Very young children, typically below age seven, may need to be sedated to hold still for treatment. Parents stay with them during setup, hold their hands until they fall asleep, leave for the few minutes of treatment, return as they wake up. If sedation is needed, medical care can take an hour or more. Daily treatment lasts four to seven weeks depending on diagnosis.

It’s a partnership. Pediatric oncologists and radiation oncologists work together to follow young patients and monitor for tumor response and side effects. With parents’ permission, children (like adults) are entered into a database combining outcomes information from 13 centers across the nation. As children with cancer become young adults, they transfer their overall care to Winship and a long-term survivorship program headed by Esiashvili.


Emory News Article