HAMPTON, Va., Feb. 2, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The most precise cancer treatment available is now even sharper at the Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) thanks to the addition of Pencil Beam Scanning (PBS).

According to Ion Beam Applications (IBA), the Belgian equipment manufacturer for HUPTI, Pencil Beam Scanning, also known as spot scanning, allows for a higher degree of precision and minimizes the overall exposure and radiation to healthy tissue. The first patient selected for PBS treatment at HUPTI is underwent treatment for prostate cancer completed in early December. Three additional patients have joined the PBS treatment program.

"We've been working on new advancements for the past several years," said Tyvin Rich, MD, HUPTI Radiation Oncologist. "Pencil Bean Scanning is a very elegant, conformal treatment that features improvements in the delivery of proton therapy."

Used for the first time in 2008, PBS has treated over 1,800 patients and is only available in select proton facilities in the U.S., according to IBA.

"Because the dose is more conformal to the tumor site, the beam is pinpointed to the exact area, enabling clinicians to utilize Intensity-Modulated Proton Therapy (IMPT)," said Ping Wong, Ph.D., HUPTI Chief of Physics, whose team was responsible for commissioning the PBS equipment.

"IMPT represents the latest technological development in radiation therapy, complementing the already well established advantages of proton therapy," said Allan Thornton, MD, HUPTI Radiation Oncologist.

"This technology allows us to treat with even greater conformality than the standard proton therapy while delivering even less dose to tissues en route or between the surface of the skin and the target.

"This is a particular advantage to patients with head and neck tumors, tumors in the center of the body and the middle of the base of the scull, and for children. We look forward to increasingly adopt this technology in the treatment of our specialized patients for brain, head and neck, and pediatric."

"I felt great going through the treatment," said John Heiser, 72 of Hampton, Va., the first patient to finish in the PBS program. "I continued to work out five times a week during treatment.

"The best part about the treatment is the staff. I'm glad I chose proton therapy. I think it's the wave of the future."

Proton Therapy

Proton therapy is considered the most precise form of cancer treatment to date as it is able to target tumors with millimeter accuracy, sparing surrounding healthy tissue, resulting in reduced side effects.

Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute

Hampton University Proton Therapy Institute (HUPTI) located in Hampton, VA, is the eighth proton facility in the U.S. and the largest of its kind in the world. To date, HUPTI has treated over 1,200 patients per year with prostate, head and neck, breast, brain, pancreatic, lung, pediatric and other cancers. The actual treatment of protons lasts two minutes or less. Patients are treated five days a week, from one to nine weeks. For more information, please visit hamptonproton.org.

Sarita L. Scott