Tennessee's only proton therapy facility saw its first patients on Monday.

According to a press release, three prostate cancer patients were the first to treated at Knoxville's new Provision Center for Proton Therapy. There are only a handful of cities in the country offering this treatment, which the release calls a "revolutionary and accurate cancer treatment."

Two men from Knoxville and a patient from North Carolina received the proton therapy at the Dowell Springs facility, located off Middlebrook Pike in West Knoxville.

"I researched it and knew I wanted proton therapy," said Joe Hamby of Knoxville in the release. "I initially planned on going to another proton center 500 miles away until I learned there was one right in my backyard."

Proton therapy uses a single beam of high-energy protons to treat various forms of cancer, such as prostate, pediatric, sarcoma, brain, lung, and breast cancers.It's different from conventional radiation therapy, where beam energy dissipates as it passes through the body. The release says proton beams can be fine-tuned with millimeters of accuracy to deliver maximum energy within the controlled range of the cancerous tumor.

"The treatment of our first patients is such a significant milestone," said Mary Lou DuBois, President of Provision Center for Proton Therapy. "We are blessed and honored to see our vision come full-circle. This wouldn't have been possible without the passionate dedication and teamwork from all the facility, administrative and clinical staff. Our mission is to provide our community and this region with the most compassionate and effective cancer treatment available today."

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