Proton therapy is an advanced form of radiation therapy that is currently available at a limited number of centers worldwide.
Chief Executive Officer of KFMC Dr. Abdullah Al-Amro signed the agreement under the direct supervision of Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah with representatives of participating local and foreign companies and from the Ministry of Health.
Speaking to Arab News, Dr. Mushabbad Al-Asiri, head of the Oncology Department at KFMC, said this is the first such center in the Middle East and second in Asia after Japan.
“The cost of the plant and its operation and maintenance is so expensive that some countries cannot afford to implement this facility despite its proven usefulness,” Al-Asiri said.
The oncologist explained the premises of KFMC will be rented for the private sector company to install the proton therapy machine and the company has to pay a monthly rent for its tenancy inside the complex. The Health Ministry will bear the treatment costs for its patients treated at the center.
“It is like a lease agreement with a private sector company,” Al-Asiri said, adding that the ministry will take over the center after 20 years.
Al-Asiri said at present patients have to be sent to the United States for such treatment and it is very costly.
Proton therapy is more effective than conventional radiation therapy as it significantly reduces normal tissue exposure to excess radiation.
There is potential to reduce side effects and improve overall outcome. For some tumors, higher doses of radiation may be delivered with protons and there is also the potential to improve combination treatment with other therapies, such as chemotherapy, which can be difficult with conventional radiation therapy.
Al-Asiri said the therapy is much safer as the radiation beams can target affected tissues with greater precision.
Al-Amro said the project is a good example of an ideal private sector partnership with the ministry where the government is implementing an expensive facility without having to spend money.