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High-Tech, 220-Ton, Cancer-Fighting Machine Arrives In Irving

(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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IRVING (CBSDFW.COM) - Workers were busy Wednesday moving and installing a huge, high-tech piece of cancer fighting equipment at the new Center for Proton Therapy.

The 220 ton cyclotron is all about speed — it can accelerate a proton to nearly the speed of light.  But its journey from the Port of Houston, where it arrived from Belgium where it was made, to Irving was made at a crawl aboard two huge flat bed trailers.

“This 220 tons of hope left the Port of Houston Monday afternoon,” said the director of the center, Gary Barlow. “We could only go at most 45 miles an hour.”

As they rolled through small towns at just five miles an hour, Barlow said people came out to watch them pass by and asked what they were shipping.

Up until now, The Metroplex was the largest urban area in the U-S without this cancer fighting technology.

The cyclotron uses a series of magnets to accelerate a proton over the distance of half a football field and shoot it precisely at a cancer cell.  The technique targets the treatment with such pinpoint accuracy it allows treatment to sensitive areas like the brain, eyes and spine.

“They have the ability to cure the cancer but not have to sustain the side effects so they have a chance to maintain their quality of life,” Barlow said.

A 600-ton crane moved the cyclotron into an Irving building made especially to house the high-tech device.

“There’s about 21 miles of conduit embedded in the concrete and there’s about 15,000 cubic yards of concrete going into this facility,” said project manager Sean Ashcroft.  “That’s about 8 miles long if (concrete) trucks were lined up end to end.  Enough to fill about 4 and a half olympic sized swimming pools.”

For all the complex technology and construction, though, the cyclotron’s mission is simple.

“This technology is focused on creating more cancer survivors and maintaining their quality of life,” Barlow said.

The center should be ready to treat patients in early 2016.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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