WEB REVIEW – Proton Therapy for prostate cancer at Loma Linda

More men are diagnosed with prostate cancer each year than any other cancer. It is slow growing, but left untreated, it can be a killer. Revolutionary treatment options just minutes from the Valley are allowing men with prostate cancer for a much better life.

“It was actually a fantastic adventure,” said Hilton Cranston-Whittaker about his battle with cancer. ”I had high blood pressure at the time, but it never bothered me,” said the 70-year-old. But it bothered his wife, so he went in for a blood test and was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March. 

Knowing men who had gone through painful surgery, Hilton wanted to find another way. ”All I ever heard of was doomsday from men who were diagnosed with prostate cancer,” he said. That’s when he found proton therapy at Loma Linda University Medical Center, the first hospital in the country to offer the non-invasive treatment.

With proton therapy, doctors are able to use high energy particles to precisely target cancer cells. ”It is the miracle treatment,” said Hilton. “My treatment was two minutes long, two minutes each day for 45 days and then it was all over.” Moreover, there are virtually no side affects : “I didn’t feel anything, I actually said, can I get my money back because I don’t feel a thing.  It is absolutely extraordinary,”  said Hilton. He would walk five miles in the morning, get his treatment midday, then still have time and energy for golf in the afternoon. 

“45 days later, I was free and clear” he said. With treatment as easy as this, he says there is no reason why men shouldn’t get screened. ”Men sort of like myself maybe, didn’t want to face the one day, yet statistics say most men will have prostate cancer, so sooner or later you are going to have to deal with it,” he said. “It’s not doomsday. You will be pleasantly surprised and it will save your life.”

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WEB REVIEW – Brave 5-year-old fighting rhabdomyosarcoma

Sam Santhuff, 5 years old, went to pick blackberries with his twin sister Ava and his dad Matt on August 1. Somehow, Sam got over 100 seed ticks bite, and his parents, fearing Lyme disease, took him to the doctor. When applying lotion on her son’s bites, his mom Cassie noticed a bump in his nose and took him to an ENT doctor.

After several biopsies and as many doctors, on Aug. 26, Sam was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare type of tumor which had affected his nose and cheek. “I really think that blackberry trip saved Sam’s life,” Cassie said. In total, Sam has undergone six surgeries within five weeks to remove the tumor, reconstruct his face and develop Sam’s nostril. The tumor was removed, but after time and time again of shaving parts of Sam’s face to remove the cancer cells, physically removing the cancer was no longer possible.

Sam and Cassie flew to Florida on Saturday. For one month, the mother-son duo will live in Jacksonville as Sam undergoes proton therapy at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute. The proton therapy will target the remaining cancer cells in Sam’s head and be able to attack it without having an exit point. Although there is a possibility of side effects, because proton therapy does not have an exit point, it highly lessens the chance of dangerous side effects.

Throughout the whole process, Matt and Cassie said they are proud of how Sam has fought.

Having faith in their lives has proven to be effective for him, whom Cassie said talks about God and how He is going to take care of him. After Sam’s parents use monetary donations for their expenses, they plan to start a foundation in Sam’s name toward childhood cancer research.

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WEB REVIEW – 3-year-old cancer survivor is going to school

When Lucas was one year old, he was diagnosed with a rare bladder cancer. At only three years old, he has now been through more challenges than most people in their lifetime. And after being told twice that their son would not live, his parents are preparing to watch him go to school for the first time.

In 2011, Lucas’s family flew him to Florida in the US to undergo proton therapy treatment.

But before he could embark on the five-week treatment, Lucas developed septicaemia and pneumonia at the same time, leaving his life hanging in the balance. « He went into intensive care and we were told that he wouldn’t make it through the night. We were then told he would be brain damaged, but he wasn’t. The doctors over there were baffled by him », his mom Jodie said.

The septicaemia did cause Lucas to lose most of his right foot and his fingertips, but he could have lost a lot more : « The doctors wanted to amputate his left arm, left leg, right hand and right foot, but we refused. We wanted to see what treatment could do for him », said Jodie.

The toddler is now running around the house, play-fighting with his brother, Jordan, aged 10, and sister Molly, aged six, and this week he will be putting on his new uniform and starting life at St George’s Central Primary School in Tyldesley.

Lucas will have been clear of cancer for two years in May but his parents have been warned that the disease could return in other parts of his body. « Everything that the doctors have expected him to do, he has done the opposite. No one can believe it when they see him running around and full of energy — it’s amazing », they said.

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WEB REVIEW – 1st patient treated at S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center

Last month, a 33-year-old man from Leasburg, Missouri, receives a revolutionary form of highly accurate radiation treatment.

Steven Osborne has a rare type of cancer called chondrosarcoma at the base of his skull. He will be undergoing a 30- to 45-minute session each weekday for seven weeks at S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center at Washington University Medical Center. Patients eligible for the therapy at the center have cancer near vital organs such as the spine, brain, heart and eyes.

« Proton therapy is unique because it allows for very precise adjustments to the radiation beam, so we can precisely target tumors, » said Jeffrey Bradley, MD, director of the Proton Therapy Center. « It helps to minimize damage to surrounding tissue and is especially useful when treating growing children. For example, treatment of a brain tumor such as Osborne’s with proton therapy may be less likely to result in blindness or other complications », said Bradley.

A superconducting synchrocyclotron proton accelerator is a key component of the new proton therapy system. « Our team of Washington University radiation oncologists and physicists has been instrumental in developing treatment planning and quality-assurance processes for this technology, » Bradley said. « We’re now focused on using it to provide the best possible care for our patients. »

The S. Lee Kling Proton Therapy Center plans to treat 20 to 25 patients a day. Treatment typically will require daily 30-minute sessions for two months. The center will serve the Midwest. The next closest location offering proton therapy is 225 miles away.

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WEB REVIEW – Proton therapy for children with tumors near the brainstem

According to a new study, proton therapy can be used safely and effectively to treat pediatric sarcomas and brain tumors adjacent to the brainstem.

The study’s findings were presented in October 2013 at the American Society for Radiation Oncology’s 55th annual meeting, held in Atlanta (GA, USA), by lead researcher Daniel J. Indelicato, MD, associate professor at the University of Florida, in the department of radiation oncology. The study describes the findings of 313 children who received a high radiation dose to the area around the brainstem, and is the largest of this type ever presented.

More than 90% of these children treated at UF Proton Therapy Institute (UFPTI, Jacksonville, USA) since 2006 survived beyond two years and the rate of serious side effects involving the brainstem was of 2%.

“This study provides important evidence that proton therapy may be safely delivered to our most vulnerable patients with challenging tumors,” said Dr. Indelicato. “Whenever a child experiences a side effect from radiation that impacts the brainstem, it is a very serious and potentially life-threatening event. Across our entire discipline, regardless of the treatment modality, pediatric radiation oncologists need more information to identify patients at risk. This study contributes valuable radiation dose parameters to help guide the design of safe radiation treatment plans.”

Most of the children treated at the UFPTI have tumors in this critical location near the base of the skull and spinal cord. Proton therapy provides an advantage in these children, because the developing brain is exposed to less radiation. Moreover, proton therapy may limit the dose to a child’s hearing, hormone, and vision centers neighboring the tumor.

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Stories of prostate cancer survivors built credible expectations for proton treatments

Alton Whitley is an analytical guy. Numbers — data — drove Whitley’s decisions during his whole career as a fighter pilot with the U.S. Air Force.

But when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early 2013, data didn’t drive the retired colonel’s decision about which treatment would be best. The stories of cancer survivors did. “I was raised in a family where you were expected to make decisions and they had to be the right decisions,” Whitley said. “So, I read the scientific data. I read the journal articles. You get into the tables and you look at [treatment] modalities and ages and specific circumstances and what your chance of success is. And all that is well and good.

“But I found the testimonials of prostate cancer survivors to have the most impact on my thought process.”

Data show radical prostate surgery to be one of several viable treatment options for some men, Whitley noted. “But I have yet to read a testimonial from a patient who chose radical prostatectomy that said, ‘I’m glad I did that and here’s why.’ “But I found lots of testimonials by men who did protons,” continued Whitley. “I read Bob Marckini’s book. That lit my fire. I read Harold Dawley’s book. And I read a book about a gentleman from South America who went to Seoul for treatment.”

Whether online or in print, the published recollections of prostate cancer patients shone a bright light on the whole prostate cancer experience, no matter what the therapywas , he said, from treatment preparations to side effects suffered during weeks of treatment, and months or years later. “I read the same things that Alton did,” added Ann, his spouse. “So, I was able to compare the treatments, too.”

From the get-go, surgery was not an attractive option for Whitley. Over the years, he had lost some dear family members to postsurgical infections and other complications, he said. “So, I had a mental block about surgery,” said Whitley. “And I didn’t really like the potential side effects of prostate surgery. I was really looking for a noninvasive treatment.” Of all the nonsurgical options, proton beam therapy made the most sense to Whitley. Having flown many combat missions, he recognized the importance of hitting the target, while doing little damage to the surrounding area.

And the real-world testimonials from proton patients provided him with the reassurance and confidence to choose proton therapy. Harold Dawley’s book has a chapter devoted to the first proton treatment,” recalled Whitley. “It’s a chapter I read numerous times.” So, when the time came and he was waiting in his gown for his first round of proton therapy at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, Whitley felt he already knew the drill.

Whitley completed his proton treatments in early November 2013. “Am I cancer-free?” he asked aloud. “We won’t know that for a long time. I go back to Houston in February for a reassessment. But I am living the same active lifestyle I was living before I was diagnosed.”

Today is World Cancer Day. Let us debunk the myths about Proton Therapy!

Today is World Cancer Day (http://www.worldcancerday.org/ ). World Cancer Day is a chance to raise our collective voices in the name of improving general knowledge around cancer and dismissing misconceptions about the disease. This year’s edition has been placed under the tagline “Debunk the myths”. Let us do our share of the work and debunk 3 of the numerous myths about Proton Therapy.

 #1: Proton therapy is not a good option for children with cancer

The Pediatric Proton Foundation and the National Association for Proton Therapy published in October 2013, the results of a survey on the use of proton therapy to treat pediatric cancer cases in the USA. They reported that the number of kids treated with proton therapy increased by 33% between 2010 and 2012, reaching 694 patients in the USA alone.

“Parents need to understand that proton therapy offers distinct advantages for their child’s treatment over traditional radiation,” said Susan Ralston, Executive Director of the PPF.  “As the mother of a young child who was diagnosed with spinal Ewing sarcoma and was able to receive proton therapy, my goal is to help other families by ensuring that they get good information about the options for their children.”Source:  http://www.pediatricprotonfoundation.org/news/2012-pediatric-proton-survey-results

 

Myth #2: Proton therapy is significantly more expensive than conventional radiation treatments.

The very active proton therapy advocate ProtonBOB answers this question on the website of the Brotherhood of the Balloon:

  •  Proton therapy today costs a few thousand dollars more … initially.
  • Following treatment, most proton patients require zero follow-up medical attention for side effects and, complications. This follow-up medical treatment after conventional radiation and surgery often costs thousands of dollars in doctor/hospital bills, medical procedures, diapers, catheters, E.D. medications, and other costs. Often this increases total cost to levels much higher than proton therapy.
  • You can’t put a price tag on quality of life after treatment, maintaining urine control and sexual function.
  • The chance of secondary cancers from IMRT are double that of proton. Secondary cancers cause severe quality of life problems and cost tens of thousands of dollars to treat.
  • Hypo-fractionation clinical trials currently underway will dramatically reduce the initial cost of proton treatment in the not-too-distant future.
  • So, is proton therapy for prostate cancer significantly more expensive than IMRT? Absolutely not! Initial cost may be higher, but total cost is similar or maybe even lower. And, in the near future, even the initial cost will be comparable to IMRT.

Source: http://www.protonbob.com/proton-therapy-myth-two.asp

#3 Proton Therapy is not suitable for lung cancer treatment?

Charles B. Simone, II, MD, Radiation Oncologist at Penn Medicine, responds on Oncolink: “Proton radiation therapy is a relatively newly utilized type of radiation therapy that has the potential to decrease the radiation dose to normal tissues that are next to the tumor. Currently, there are only 10 centers in the United States that offer proton radiation therapy. Because the tumor continuously moves as a patient breathes during radiation therapy, tumor movement must be accounted for when treating with any kind of radiation therapy. With proton radiation therapy, however, accounting for this movement is technically more difficult. Several proton centers have begun to treat lung cancer with proton therapy, and this can allow for lower doses of irradiation to normal tissues, with potentially fewer side effects, and better local control. Proton therapy may also more safely allow radiation therapy to be combined with chemotherapy and/or surgery for patients who would most benefit from multi-modality therapy. Not all insurances cover proton therapy, but many do if it is shown in your specific case to deliver a better radiation plan than conventional radiation therapy. Please contact your insurance company or ask your healthcare provider for more details on your insurance coverage.”

Source: http://www.oncolink.org/experts/article.cfm?id=2941&aid=3860