Massive proton accelerator installed at Orlando Health's new proton therapy center

ORLANDO, Fla. — Orlando took another step toward becoming a destination for advanced medical treatment on Sunday.

A crane was used to install a 58-ton proton accelerator machine into the construction site of Orlando Health's new Proton Therapy Center. The proton accelerator is one of only six in the world.

Crews spent quite some time preparing to lift the massive peice of equipment onto the roof of the under-construction building near Orlando Regional Medical Center.

"It is going to advance patient care in central Florida a great deal," said Dr. Naren Ramakrishna, Director of Proton Therapy.

Passersby watched as workers slowly moved the MEVION S250 superconducting synchrocyclotron proton accelerator, which costs about $25 million and provides cancer patients with a form of radiation therapy that uses proton beams.

"We are one of only five centers in the country to have this particular technology," said Ramakrishna.

The proton beams are more focused than current radiation treatments. The accelerator delivers a lower dose of radiation, which results in fewer side effects, especially for pediatric cancer patients.

"The treatment allows us to receive lower dose because of its properties. So we can cure more cancers," said Ramakrishna.

Orlando Health said it expects to begin treating patients at the Proton Therapy Center in early 2016 and will treat up to 30 patients each day.