Princeton man is the 1st to use OSF’s new proton beam therapy in Peoria

Scott began the 1st of 28 treatments

Tim Scott, of Princeton, stands next to OSF's proton beam radiation therapy machine.

After officially opening in February, a Princeton man was welcomed at the OSF HealthCare Cancer Institute in Peoria as its first proton beam radiation therapy patient.

Tim Scott, 70, is the first patient to receive the treatment at OSF. Scott traveled from Princeton after receiving a prostate cancer diagnosis. He said he searched for the best cancer care nearby as soon as he was given the news about his diagnosis on Valentine’s Day 2024. The OSF Cancer Institute was recommended to him by his care team.

Scott said he wanted to get treatment quickly, knowing his family history with prostate cancer.

“It had taken my father away and my great-uncle,” Scott said. “I felt fortunate that the proton therapy was in the immediate area.”

On Monday, April 1, Scott began the first of 28 treatments in his cancer journey. He said the appointment was quick, and he felt comfortable with the medical team.

“(The OSF) staff had me laughing, which I like,” Scott said in a news release from OSF. “We had a good time this morning. Everybody walked out and said ‘you’re the man! You’re the first guy!’ Everything went really well and it’s an amazing treatment.”

Scott will receive treatments Monday through Friday until he reaches 28 treatments. He said the treatment itself was no more than 10 minutes.

The OSF Cancer Institute is the only center outside of Chicago and St. Louis offering proton therapy in the region. James McGee, MD, founding director of the OSF Cancer Institute, said this treatment is less invasive than current treatments being offered.

“It’s where a packet of energy with positively charged proton particles is used to go to one spot of the tumor and treat that spot of the tumor,” Dr. McGee said in an OSF news release. “We’re able to go anywhere in the tumor. Very little dose on the entry side, and no dose on the exit side. Using all of that, we can corral the radiation into the tumor and reduce the dose of radiation to the normal and healthy tissues that we don’t want to get incidental radiation, like the lymph nodes and things where the immune response is being mounted to that cancer.”

The therapy is powered by a Varian ProBeam 360-degree System cyclotron. McGee said the ability to rotate the system 360 degrees allows the technology to target cancer from any angle.

“We know the biological effect of protons is often felt to be at least 10% higher than with X-ray therapy,” McGee said. “That gets factored into treatment planning. We also know the ability to give these treatments in a way that doesn’t affect the immune system, allows the actual radiation treatment to be more effective. We’re seeing more and more evidence that there is better tumor control in certain situations. People are not failing that would’ve failed at those doses with X-ray therapy. Also, we’re not generating secondary cancers from the radiation.”

It is estimated the OSF Cancer Institute will treat upwards of 3,700 cancer patients annually.

Proton therapy is used most frequently for head and neck, prostate, spine, breast, sarcoma, brain and esophagus cancers. It can also be a retreatment after prior radiation.

To learn more about cancer services at the OSF Cancer Institute, call 1-844-OSF-4-HOPE or 1-844-673-4467.

Dr. James McGee, of OSF, demonstrates the ProBeam 360.