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New Cancer Center Will Feature Proton Therapy

Scripps Health has broken ground on a $185 million cancer center in Mira Mesa. When the center opens in 2013, it will be the first in San Diego County to offer proton therapy to cancer patients.

The therapy uses a 90-ton cyclotron to generate beams of protons that are fired into cancerous tumors. Proton therapy kills cancerous cells while sparing surrounding tissue.

There are only seven health facilities in the U.S. that offer this kind of treatment.

Scripps Health CEO Chris Van Gorder expects the center will draw patients from all over California.

"But, you know, our prime responsibility is trying to meet the unmet health care needs of our own community," Van Gorder said. "And I can't tell you how excited I am to be able to do this here in San Diego. The children with cancer and adults with cancer won't have to leave this community to have access to this therapy."

Proton therapy is more expensive than standard radiation treatments, but it's covered by most insurance plans.

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