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Overview: Press & NewsDate created: 13.09.2023

A decade ago, clinical operations started at the West German Proton Therapy Center (WPE). During this time, the facility under the direction of Prof. Beate Timmermann has established itself as one of the world’s leading centers and at the same time the largest university center for proton therapy in Germany. The tenth anniversary of the WPE will be celebrated on September 13, 2023, starting at 1 p.m. with a festive and scientific meeting in the Deichmann-Auditorium of the “Lehr- und Lernzentrum” on the campus of the University Hospital Essen. The scientific meeting will be followed by guided tours of the state-of-the-art proton facility starting at 6:30 pm. As part of the Essen University Medical Center, the WPE is firmly integrated into the West German Tumor Center Essen (WTZ) and offers low side-effect tumor therapy in collaboration with all the specialist disciplines required for treatment.

More than 4000 patients treated

Around 4,000 patients have now been treated at the WPE, half of them children. Most of these patients suffer from tumors that are inoperable or not completely operable and are surrounded by important, sensitive tissue that must be particularly protected. This was also the case for the 4,000th patient: the 27-year-old Romanian young woman suffered from a bone tumor of the skull base, which was diagnosed in February 2023 in her home country and operated on there in March. With the help of proton therapy in Essen, local control of the remaining tumor can be achieved without damaging nearby tissues and organs, including the brain stem, spinal cord, inner ear and optic nerve.

When irradiating with protons – positively charged parts of hydrogen atoms – it is possible to define exactly where in the body they release their full energy abruptly. Almost only there do they damage the cancer cells and prevent further growth. This enables a higher radiation dose and the protons can enter human tissue considerably deeper.

Tumors Treated

Various tumors can be treated at the WPE. You can find an overview and more detailed information here:

Many guests came to congratulate

“The people of Essen consider themselves very fortunate to have such a top center of modern cancer therapy in their city – with expertise that is without equal far beyond the borders of the Ruhr region. As the city administration, we see it as our responsibility to offer institutions such as the WPE the best possible site conditions,” said Thomas Kufen, Lord Mayor of the city of Essen. In addition, it is of course the responsibility of health policy to ensure the adequate operation of the WPE.

“The WPE stands for outstanding, people-oriented cutting-edge medicine and thus for the core competence of the University Hospital Essen,” explained Bärbel Bergerhoff-Wodopia, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board of the University Hospital Essen. “I look forward to accompanying the further positive development of proton therapy at the site in a constructive manner.”

“The WPE is one of the international flagships of the University Hospital Essen and proof of how important technological progress is for the further development of medicine. It significantly expands our range of services in cancer therapy and makes a decisive contribution to oncological precision medicine, which we consider to be one of our central tasks as a university medicine,” says Prof. Dr. Jochen A. Werner, Medical Director and Chairman of the Executive Board of University Hospital Essen.

Interdisciplinary collaboration

“Proton therapy has long been the treatment of choice for the irradiation of skull base tumors, eye tumors and tumors in children,” explains Prof. Beate Timmermann, Director of the Clinic for Particle Therapy and Medical Director of the WPE. “Not least through interdisciplinary collaboration with colleagues from the WTZ and other clinics, we have succeeded in continuously expanding our range of services for all age groups, for example to include radiation therapy for prostate carcinoma or, most recently, the treatment of certain eye tumors.”

Top picture: (f.l.t.r.): Prof. Jochen A. Werner (UK Essen), Prof. Barbara Albert (University Duisburg-Essen), Prof. Beate Timmermann (WPE), Isabelle Hennen (IBA), Prof. Jan Buer (Medical Faculty), Thomas Kufen (Lord Mayor City of Essen)