ST. LOUIS (KSDK) - What's being called a revolutionary type of cancer treatment is now being offered at Barnes-Jewish Hospital and St. Louis Children's Hospital.
The $20 million Proton Therapy Center is the only one in the state. Patients previously had to travel 250 miles to find one.
Doctors say it's different from traditional radiation, which shrinks a tumor but can also damage tissue around it. Proton therapy delivers a more precisely targeted dose of radiation, which means it goes directly to the tumor and limits the side effects.
Children's Hospital just started treating their first child with the technology. Six-year-old Charlie North is diagnosed with Medulloblastoma and will get treatment for 17 days.
His mother, Julie North said, "It's been going great. We haven't had any issues whatsoever, and I think we're already starting to see some of the effects that... he's starting to get his appetite back a little bit, I think he's starting to feel a little bit better because of this proton radiation."
Stephanie Perkins, assistant professor in department of radiation oncology, said, "This proton center is the first of its kind in the world. It's a smaller version of a proton center and that's important because it's more affordable and requires less space so we're able to put the center right in the middle of our medical center."
Charlie will receive chemo after he finishes proton therapy. His doctor says his prognosis is "really good."