McLaren Proton Therapy Center Treats Milestone 1,000th Patient

In just over five years since opening, the McLaren Proton Therapy Center in Flint, part of the Karmanos Cancer Network, has demonstrated its ability to deliver care proficiently and effectively by reaching the milestone of treating its 1,000th cancer patient.

Treating its first patient in late 2018, the Center, one of only two in the state, celebrated the completion of its 1,000th patient’s treatment — a mid-Michigan woman receiving care for recurring breast cancer — in January 2024.

And as the McLaren Proton Therapy Center currently is undergoing an expansion, achieving the 1,000th patient milestone in that timeframe further asserts the benefits of the technology, its effectiveness in cancer care, and the demands for increased access.

“Bringing the proton therapy center to Michigan represented a significant investment to McLaren, not only in capital but in the time that was required for the project to be fully realized,” said Phil Incarnati, McLaren Health Care President and CEO. “But we were committed to opening patients’ access to this advanced and advantageous technology. The results of that commitment are seen in the many patients and their families whose cancer battles have had a favorable outcome, which further led to our initiatives aimed at continuing to enhance access by expanding the center’s treatment capacity.”

Exploring the idea of what would ultimately become the McLaren Proton Therapy Center began in 2008, during which time there were only five therapy centers of its type throughout the United States. Patients in Michigan and the majority of the country with particularly difficult cases would have to leave their state to access that advanced level of treatment.

“The road to making the McLaren Proton Therapy Center a reality was full of anticipation and excitement, but we saw immediately the impact and advantage this technology can provide for our region and state, helping cancer patients achieve better quality of life and better treatment outcomes,” said Dr. Hesham Gayar, radiation oncologist and medical director of the McLaren Proton Therapy Center. “As the growth of proton therapy continues throughout the country, we remain grateful that we were able to see the benefits and advantages of this technology, and to be in the position to bring it here and continue expanding this wonderful and potent program.”

An advanced form of radiation therapy, the treatment utilizes high-energy proton beams, as opposed to X-rays, to destroy cancerous cells. Beams can be precisely targeted to cancer tumors’ unique size, shape, and location in the body in order to accurately deliver that energy to the tumor, destroying cancer cells while sparing nearby healthy tissue from radiation exposure, limiting any potentially harmful side effects.

McLaren’s commitment to offering proton therapy would ultimately represent an investment of tens of millions of dollars and years of managing the project to fruition — receiving its FDA clearance in 2016 and treating the first patient in 2018.

“The McLaren Proton Therapy Center is one of only two proton beam centers in the State of Michigan which differentiates McLaren and the Karmanos Cancer Institute in the provision of cancer care services for our patients,” said Brian Gamble, President of the Karmanos Cancer Hospital & Network. “Proton beam provides a novel treatment approach that provides a less toxic and more efficient means to providing targeted cancer treatment. It is designed for localized cancers that targets and treats cancers while sparing healthy tissues and organs from unnecessary radiation. Proton beam is among the many novel treatments available through the Karmanos Cancer Institute. “

With the addition of the Hospitality House, which provides low- to no-cost on-campus accommodations for patients and families traveling for treatment, demand for the McLaren Proton Therapy Center grew to the extent that it has supported the program’s physical and clinical expansion.

In 2023, construction began that will nearly double the Center’s care capacity through the addition of two upright treatment units from Leo Cancer Care. Pending FDA clearance, the program will be the first in the world to feature the innovative technology in early 2025.

To learn more about the benefits of proton therapy or to request an appointment with an oncologist, visit

About McLaren Proton Therapy Center
McLaren Proton Therapy Center is part of the Karmanos Cancer Networkand offers radiation oncology treatment with superior precision. The McLaren Proton Therapy Center leads in advanced, next-generation technology by providing pencil-beam scanning and a state-of-the-art system for volumetric image guided proton therapy delivery. The McLaren Proton Therapy Center’s synchrotron accelerates protons to speeds up to 60 percent of the speed of light that are then focused to target the cancer, while sparing healthy tissues. The system uses isocentric gantries with 180-degree rotation, and robotic patient positioning and verification systems, allowing the most flexibility for treatment design and delivery. Located in Flint, Michigan, patients from the surrounding areas and beyond travel to the McLaren Proton Therapy Center for this advanced treatment. Learn more at

About McLaren Health Care
McLaren Health Care, headquartered in Grand Blanc, Michigan, is a $6.6 billion, fully integrated health care delivery system committed to quality, evidence-based patient care and cost efficiency. The McLaren system includes 13 hospitals in Michigan, ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, a 490-member employed primary and specialty care physician network, commercial and Medicaid HMOs covering more than 732,838 lives in Michigan and Indiana, home health, infusion and hospice providers, pharmacy services, a clinical laboratory network and a wholly owned medical malpractice insurance company. McLaren operates Michigan’s largest network of cancer centers and providers, anchored by the Karmanos Cancer Institute, a National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S. McLaren has 28,000 full-, part-time and contracted employees and more than 113,000 network providers throughout Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Learn more at