Said to be the world’s first facility of this type dedicated only for children with cancer, the new center features 190-degree half gantries designed to provide efficient and spacious treatment-room environments for pediatric care.

The center comprises the linear accelerator, a synchrotron, a three-story rotating gantry, powerful magnets and other equipment required to generate and deliver high-energy protons to tumors using small, carefully calibrated beams.

All rooms at the center feature Hitachi-developed spot-scanning irradiation, which received the first FDA Premarket Notification Special 510(k) clearance in 2007.

St. Jude president and CEO James Downing said: "The opening of the St. Jude Red Frog Events Proton Therapy Center marks an important step in our efforts to provide therapies that maximize cures while minimizing long-term treatment complications."

"The center is an engineering marvel made possible through the talents of many who are committed to offering children with cancer the best hope for the future."

In 2013, Red Frog Events, a fundraising partner of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, raised $25m for the center.

St. Jude clinical director and executive vice-president Larry Kun said: "Proton therapy is an evolution in delivery of focused radiation therapy that allows us to deliver the highest possible dose to tumors while limiting damage to surrounding tissue.

"The center will speed the further integration of proton beam therapy into our clinical research program."

Proton beam therapy is claimed to be an advanced form of external beam radiotherapy with fewer side effects compared to traditional radiotherapy.

Image: officials from Hitachi, Red Frog Events and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Photo: courtesy of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.