New York's first proton-therapy center will open today in East Harlem, more than a decade after some of the city's largest healthcare institutions began planning it.
The New York Proton Center, which cost $300 million to build, will start patient consultations later this month, with cancer treatments expected to begin in July, said Dr. Charles Simone, the center's chief medical officer.
The 140,000-square-foot facility on East 126th Street between Third and Second avenues is the result of a partnership between Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Montefiore Health System and Mount Sinai Health System. ProHealth Proton Management, an affiliate of Lake Success–based medical group ProHealth, will manage the site.
The center's radiation therapy will use protons, which can be more precisely targeted to treat solid tumors in sensitive areas than traditional photon radiation therapy, which is more likely to damage healthy tissue.
"With proton therapy, the normal tissue gets a lot less radiation, and patients are less likely to experience side effects and complications from radiation," Simone said. He noted that all forms of radiation can cause fatigue, and patients could experience side effects related to the part of the body part being treated, such as nausea in patients with stomach cancer.
What's still unclear is how the center will affect treatment costs. While Simone couldn't say what prices would be agreed to at the East Harlem center, he noted that other facilities typically charge insurers more than for traditional radiation therapy.
The center is working to reach contracts with private insurers, while Medicare has approved coverage for all cancer types, Simone said. It is also in discussions with the state Medicaid program.
"We're starting to talk with medical directors of several major private insurance companies in the region to get contracts in place and determine which types of patients will be approved for proton therapy," he said.
"Proton center set to open in New York" originally appeared in Crain's New York Business.