Artists rendering of Danbury Proton cancer treatment center at 85 Wooster Heights.

It is very likely that every person reading this commentary has a family member, friend, neighbor or co-worker who has struggled, or is struggling, with some kind of cancer. Perhaps you’ve had cancer yourself, or are currently receiving treatment.

Drew Crandall

The good news is that cancer treatment has come a long way and continues to improve. One of those improvements is a revolutionary form of radiation treatment called “proton therapy.” Protons are taken out of the nuclei of atoms, accelerated into a beam, and pointed directly and precisely at a cancerous tumor. There is minimal to no impact on surrounding healthy tissue and vital organs. The proton beam stops at the tumor. When the protons hit the cancer cells, they destroy the DNA of the cancer cells.

Proton therapy is an effective way to treat cancerous tumors of the brain, breast, lung, prostate and elsewhere. It is a game-changer in cancer treatment. There are now 39 centers in 22 states and the District of Columbia, with seven more centers under construction.

Due to its population density, aging population, and incidence of cancer, Connecticut desperately needs proton therapy. Two new centers are proposed; one in Wallingford that will be a joint venture of Yale New Haven Health, Hartford Health Care and Proton International, and another in Danbury that will be independent provider. Both projects are awaiting approval of their Certificate Of Need (CON) applications from the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy.

The CON process is long and complicated, exacerbated by the coronavirus. For the Wallingford facility, it has been 2 1/2 years; for the Danbury facility, it has been two years. Every month that goes by delays construction jobs and delays patient treatment.

From every imaginable angle — health care access, quality of patient care, health care cost and competitiveness, local and state jobs and economic development, high-tech prestige and innovation, and overall public good — both proton therapy treatment centers are winners. Why wouldn’t the state approve them now, without further delay?

Now is the time to express your support for these much-needed, life-saving projects.

Drew Crandall is community engagement director at Danbury Proton