For those of us not in the scientific world, the most we know about particle physics is what we learned from watching the popular show, “The Big Bang Theory.” Yet, applications of particle physics are all around us, from the ink on cereal boxes, to the silicon chip that runs your smartphone, and even the treatment of cancer.
Home to one of the leading international laboratories for particle physics – Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) – DuPage County is a destination for top minds in science from around the world and where proton therapy for cancer treatment became a reality.
Proton therapy is a form of radiation therapy, but differs from standard radiation in that much of the dose is directly released into, and conforms to the shape of, the tumor, reducing damage to surrounding healthy tissue; where as the dose for standard radiation continues beyond the tumor. Due to the unique characteristics of protons, and by varying the initial energy of the beam, radiation oncologists can target tumors at different depths in the body to within a millimeter.
Proton therapy is a lesser known cancer treatment due to the limited number of treatment centers across the nation. DuPage County is still considered a leader in the field. Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center, located in the City of Warrenville in DuPage County, is the only proton therapy center in Illinois, and one of only a few in the Midwest.
DID YOU KNOW?
Illinois is home to eight of the nation’s best hospitals, three of which – Edward Hospital in Naperville and Elmhurst, and Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield – are located in DuPage County, according to IBM Watson Health’s 25th annual Top 100 Hospitals list.
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