WEB REVIEW – Conch Republic’s Peter Anderson survives cancer

After being diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer last October and given 3 months to live, Sir Peter Anderson, 67, rode in the front of the Conch Republic Independence celebration parade with his daughter and former wife.

In 1990, Anderson was appointed Secretary General of the Conch Republic, the fake country created in 1982 by Key West leaders so they could “secede” from the United States. He took the humorous role super-seriously, and for 25 years, has been the public face of the Conch Republic, keeping alive its fun-loving spirit, charity works and zany independence events.


But this year, Anderson was not expected to attend the 32nd Conch Republic parade. He was supposed to be dead : last October, he was diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer. « The doctor gave me about three months, » he said. But Anderson had led an unbelievable life, so tracking down a “miracle” and recovering from near death was just another chapter. He began searching and came up with proton therapy.


It was a horrible ordeal, and he returned home weak. « I could see in my daughter’s eyes she thought I was going to die, » Anderson said. But slowly he began gaining strength, and despite tiring easily, he was able to attend all of the 20 events of his 25th Independence Celebration.

5 years after proton beam therapy, most prostate cancer patients are disease-free and living a normal life, study reports

A long-term outcomes study of prostate cancer patients treated with image-guided protons may begin to dispel questions about the efficacy of proton therapy and its impact on patient quality of life.

For five years, clinicians at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, Florida, tracked the ongoing health of 211 men. Each had been diagnosed with low-, intermediate- or high-risk prostate cancer. And all had been treated with image-guided proton therapy between August 2006 and September 2007.

Among prostate cancer study participants, patients were deemed low risk with a Gleason score of 6, and a PSA less than 10. Intermediate-risk prostate cancer patients had a Gleason score of greater than 6 but less than 8, and/or a PSA more than 10, but less than 20. Patients with high-risk disease had a Gleason score greater than 8 and/or a PSA of 20 or higher. Other factors also helped determine prostate cancer severity.

The results, published earlier this year in the International Journal of Radiation Oncology Biology Physics, showed 99 percent of 82 patients with intermediate-risk prostate cancer remained disease-free five years after proton treatments.

According to Nancy P. Mendenhall, M.D., lead author of the peer-reviewed study and medical director at UF Proton Therapy Institute, the number of cancer-free men previously diagnosed with mid-level prostate cancer is of particular significance, as that classification of patients is fairly consistent across prostate cancer studies, whether using proton or photon radiation. “It’s important to highlight that intermediate group,” she emphasized. “Their disease is at a point where we know they all need treatment, otherwise it will progress. None of these were candidates for active surveillance.”

Disease control rates of 70 to 85 percent are typically seen among prostate cancer patients with intermediate-risk disease who are treated with photons using intensity modulated radiation therapy, Dr. Mendenhall noted.

“We had hoped for disease control outcomes of 85 percent for intermediate-risk patients, about the same as a recent Memorial Sloan Kettering study using intensity modulated radiation therapy,” Dr. Mendenhall said. “To have 99 percent was a pleasant surprise.”

The study also reported 99 percent of 89 patients who had low-risk prostate cancer and 76 percent of 40 patients with high-risk prostate cancer were free of their cancer five years after proton therapy.

“I think the most important takeaway for patients is that disease control outcomes for protons were really outstanding,” Dr. Mendenhall said.

While being cancer-free was one primary measure of the study, the other was the patient’s capacity to live a normal life, absent the troubling side effects frequently experienced by men whose healthy urinary and gastrointestinal tissues received unintentional radiation from photons.

Throughout the five-year study, Florida researchers asked members of the study group general questions about their daily health. “The patient was not guided or prompted in any way,” said Dr. Mendenhall. “So in terms of experiencing normal urinary and bowel function — which can be two very important things — the vast majority of patients reported no change from normal. The loss of erectile function did occur in a few patients.”

Ten years ago, radiation oncologists at Loma Linda University Medical Center Proton Treatment Center published the first long-term outcomes study of prostate cancer patients treated solely with protons. The 1,200 participants were treated with 3-D conformal proton therapy. “Our study confirms their excellent findings,” Dr. Mendenhall said.

This fall, Dr. Mendenhall and her associates will complete data collection for a larger outcomes study involving about 1,300 men treated for prostate cancer at UF Proton Therapy Institute from 2007 to 2010.

Proton beams are just the catch for fisherman fighting prostate cancer


This month, 65-year-old Doug Neal will be setting out with his commercial fishing partner for the blue waters of the Gulf of Alaska to catch black cod. The same as he’s done nearly every May since he was 14.


“Between the two of us, we’ll catch 55,000 pounds,” Doug said. “My buddy’s already made one trip. I imagine we can get our quotas in one more trip out there.”


Doug is grateful his friend has invited him aboard for the week-long trip. Doug used to captain his own 52-foot vessel, fishing for black cod, halibut and salmon from March to September and delivering his haul to buyers in Juneau and Sitka, Alaska.


But he sold his boat a few years ago to tend to his kids following the death of his wife. “She had kept the family together while I was fishing in Alaska,” Doug said.


After being diagnosed with prostate cancer in October 2013, Doug had assumed the worst.


“My kids were worried about whether I’m going to be there,” said Doug. “But I also had a whole bunch of friends and relatives who had had prostate cancer and they’re not here. And they all thought they were going to make it.”


Male friends of Doug’s age were coping with the same diagnosis, he recalled. “And they were running in all different directions for treatment,” he said. “Surgery, da Vinci®, CyberKnife®, radiation, radiation pellets.”



Doug was introduced to a man from Alaska who had traveled to the East Coast for prostate surgery. “They told him they didn’t get it all and he’d have to come back for another surgery,” Doug said. “And he was ticked. So, he went to Loma Linda and Loma Linda took care of it without surgery. They used protons. So, he had gone through both. Surgery and protons. And he became a big proponent of protons.”


Prostate cancer is different from one man to another, Doug noted. “But in my situation I decided to go to a cancer center that had all the treatment options and, with the doctors, decide what’s best for me.”


Doug travelled 2,300 miles from his home in Everett, Washington, to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Doctors there performed tests and considered Doug’s circumstances. They and Doug agreed that proton beams in combination with hormone therapy would be the best approach.


Potential treatment side effects were a huge issue for Doug. “I hadn’t heard anybody complain about the side effects of proton therapy,” he said, “but I’ve heard lots about the others.”


Doug began his treatments in November 2013. They were completed in March 2014. He’ll be returning to Houston in June for his first follow up.


But first, he’ll be out fishing the Gulf of Alaska. “On a good day, you’re all worn out. You’re beat. You’ve been busy from daylight to dark,” Doug said. “But on a good day, you can make as much as a doctor or a lawyer. It’s like Reno. But the odds are better.”


“This time of year,” he added, “it’s cold and windy. Maybe the hot flashes from my hormone treatments will come in handy.”

WEB REVIEW – Toddler’s cancer spotted by chance

Three-year-old Zack Nicholls is fighting Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer which strikes less than 35 children in the UK every year. His disease was discovered by pure luck after he fell out of bed.


“Zack’s journey started on September 6 last year when he fell out of bed,” said his mom. “I checked him over and I found a big lump on his shoulder. Zack underwent a series of tests and on October 2 he had a central line put in and I was told he had Ewing’s sarcoma of his scapula.”

Zach then went on to have chemotherapy treatment and had surgery in February to remove his shoulder blade and part of his collar bone. Unfortunately they only killed 75% of the tumor. The next recommended course of action was radiotherapy which they don’t like to do in young children because it stops the bones from growing.







Melanie applied for Zack to have radical proton beam therapy at Oklahoma City Hospital in America, and within days she was accepted. “For a child that’s growing, the proton therapy will do less damage, but that doesn’t mean all the risks are gone,” said Zach’s mom.

“The hardest thing as a mom is seeing how this disease scars and takes part of your baby away. It’s cruel but little ones just bounce back. Zack has never sat down and felt sorry for himself. He is still my perfect little baby no matter how many tubes I’ve seen coming out of him or how many scars he’s got.”




Some lung cancers may see benefits from few larger daily doses of protons

Higher doses of proton beam radiation may be a worthwhile treatment alternative for some lung cancer patients.


Radiation oncologists at MD Anderson Cancer Center and MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, are taking a lead in evaluating the use of fewer, larger-sized fractions of a total proton dose to treat early and more advanced lung cancers. This clinical approach is called hypofractionated proton therapy.


“Hypofractionated proton therapy has the potential to offer better tumor control because you’re using higher doses per day,” said Daniel Gomez, M.D., a radiation oncologist at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center. “It also may be a convenience benefit for patients because they’re getting fewer fractions and a cost benefit to the health system because you’re doing fewer fractions, as well.”


In one clinical trial led by Joe Y. Chang, M.D., a radiation oncologist and director of the stereotactic radiotherapy program at MD Anderson Cancer Center, hypofractionated proton therapy is being compared with stereotactic ablative body radiation (SABR) in the treatment of patients with early-stage lung cancers. More specifically, these are centrally located or recurrent non-small cell lung cancer.


SABR uses hypofractionated photon radiation. Hypofractionated proton therapy is also called stereotactic ablative proton therapy (SAPT).


While protons and photons are equally effective at killing cancer cells, it’s the amount of unintentional radiation going to healthy tissue and critical organs that can cause problems down the road for some cancer survivors. And protons tend to stay to the tumor target much more so than photons, reducing the doses of harmful, spillover radiation.



But will that hold true for early-stage lung cancer patients treated with hypofractionated proton radiation?


That’s the question Dr. Chang and other researchers at MD Anderson and at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, hope to answer.


They will monitor side effects experienced by early-stage lung cancer patients for two years following randomized treatment with either hypofractionated proton beams or SABR.

About 30 lung cancer patients have been recruited so far, Dr. Gomez said. Clinicians in Houston and Boston are looking to enroll a total of 120 patients in the clinical trial. More information can be found at clinicaltrials.gov.


About a year ago, phase I research by Dr. Gomez identified the potential for using hypofractionated proton therapy to treat those patients with locally advanced lung cancer who are not good candidates for chemotherapy alone or in combination with photon radiation.


The 25-patient study, published in the International Journal of Radiation OncologyBiology • Physics, found that patients tolerated higher doses of protons delivered over a three-week schedule and experienced few severe side effects. Conventional proton treatments for lung cancer are typically conducted over a longer period of time.


“Much more information is needed regarding the safety of hypofractionated proton therapy before it can be widely adopted for some lung cancers,” Dr. Gomez cautioned. “That means long-term follow up is needed to assess toxicities appearing a year or more after treatment.”


WEB REVIEW – Adrian, 12, launches £10k appeal for PT in the US

Adrian Secareanu, 12 years old, has been diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, a tumor located in his neck and jaw. He needs to raise £10,000 to support treatment for a rare form of cancer in the US.

Following several operations to remove the tumor, Adrian is due to travel to Florida for proton therapy to stop it returning in a more aggressive form. He is expected to spend at least three months in the US.

He will receive treatment at the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville after the National Specialised Commissioning Team and the Proton Therapy Clinical Reference Panel agreed to cover the cost of the treatment through the NHS.


Charity Kids ‘N’ Cancer has launched an appeal to raise £10,000 to fund his family’s expenses during the trip. Founder of Kids ‘N’ Cancer said: “We try to be there as an emotional crutch for the family and ensure the funding is reached as soon as possible. Adrian’s parents work long hours and do everything they can to give him a good start in life. We are here to help them in any way we can.”

To support Adrian, visit www.justgiving.com/Adrain-Secareanu


  • Source : http://www.daventryexpress.co.uk/news/regional/adrian-12-launches-10k-appeal-1-5985568

Protons delivered for retired mail carrier

Early in his 37 years as a postal carrier, Ric Donnici walked a 15-mile route. Every day. It was a tough slog during the hot, humid summers of Missouri. And in blowing winter snows. But no mail route was as long as the steps Ric took for his first proton treatment in September 2013.

“I walked in there with my head down and with a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face,” Ric recalled. He knew protons were the right treatment for his prostate cancer. He had been inspired by long conversations with other proton patients. He had consumed the book, You Can Beat Prostate Cancer. And Ric and his wife had felt so welcomed weeks earlier during their first visit to ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

But now, it was real. For more than five years, Ric had watched and waited as his PSA levels swung between 3 and 5. A string of urologists treated the elevations as either an infection or as prostatitis, then Ric’s PSA would drop to 3 again.

In May 2013, a new urologist performed a biopsy and found cancer. In fact, cancer cells comprised 60 percent of several tissue samples. “He let me know that the time of watchful waiting was over,” Ric said. “Up until that point, I had always felt a certain invulnerability. These things happen to somebody else, not me. I was shocked. The fact that no one else had caught it. I felt that this guy had saved my life.” So, it was easy for Ric to agree to his urologist’s recommendation: prostate surgery. “I put my trust in him,” Ric said.

Unlike many other cancer patients, Ric said, he did not turn to the web to research everything there is to know about prostate cancer and prostate surgery. “I just shut down,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it.” But as the weeks passed and the day of Ric’s surgery grew nearer, he took to reading about the procedure  — and its potential side effects. “I wasn’t thinking about the incontinence or the possibility of rectal disfunction,” he said. “What was really bothering me was I would have to wear a catheter for a couple of weeks after. And if there was an infection, a couple of weeks more. I’ve had a catheter before. I didn’t want to do that again. And all this was getting me pretty worked up.”

Ric sought out his urologist to allay his concerns. He learned his doctor had left the practice and Ric’s surgery had been assigned to another urologist. “He looked like Doogie Howser to me and he told me, ‘I do hundreds of these,’” Ric said, frustrated that his questions about potential aftereffects of prostate surgery were being glossed over.

“I was at my wit’s end, “ Ric continued. “Lucky for me, Doogie Howser was not in my network. And surgery would cost me twice what I had expected.” Ric started to explore other treatment options. A close friend in Dallas, Texas, put Ric in touch with two guys who had had proton therapy.  “They both spent hours on the phone talking to me,” Ric said. “So that started me researching. I got on Proton Bob’s website and I read. It didn’t take me more than a couple of days to decide. And I cancelled my surgery.” Ric’s wife was relieved.

Walking into the proton center, Ric got cold feet. “All us men are just big babies when it comes to medical treatments,” he said. But the professionals at ProCure took great care to put Ric at ease. “After the first treatment, I said, ‘Is that it? Is that all there is to it?’” said Ric. “There was such a sense of relief. And after that, I started to talk with people. And made such incredible friends. I would see someone come in for his very first treatment with the same look that I had, and I’d go up to him to say, ‘Hey, this is a piece of cake.’”

Ric said he experienced no side effects from treatment. And that permitted him to exercise every day and join other patients on outings. “I also had my bike down there and I would go riding right after my proton treatments,” Ric said. “Who does that after surgery?”


WEB REVIEW – Boy treated for brain tumor aspires to become a doctor

At just 5 years old, Aaron Gaines already knows what he wants to be when he grows up. “I am the boy who is going to be a doctor”, he said repeatedly when he was getting proton therapy treatment at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City.

In January of this year, Aaron’s parents realized something was terribly wrong. He wasn’t eating, kept falling asleep at the dinner table, complained of headaches and was unable to walk. Doctors discovered he had a benign brain tumor. He had it for years but cysts had become to form on top of the tumor, putting pressure inside his brain. The pressure was so great that it hurt Aaron when he ate.

He underwent a surgery to remove the cysts and then was sent to ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City. This type of tumor made Aaron the perfect candidate for proton therapy, a treatment that will enable him to continue on his path to become a doctor.

Aaron is gifted, already reading at the 6th grade level, doing 1st grade math, playing piano and conducting science experiments with his dad. He even has the unexpected knowledge that some doctors don’t: what it’s like to be on the other side. Aaron graduated from ProCure last week, after 30 treatment and “as he’s gone through this process, it’s only strengthened his desire to help people,” said his mother.

  • Source : http://www.news9.com/story/25263272/edmond-boy-treated-for-brain-tumor-aspires-to-become-doctor

High school senior eager to play baseball after proton and chemo treatments

The outfielder is speeding across the grass, intently tracking the white ball’s trajectory against the brilliant blue sky. Running. Running. Left arm extended. Rotating his glove for a back-handed catch. Reaching to where he anticipates the ball will be.

The thwack of the ball in his leather baseball glove brings elation. He ends his run in a satisfied trot, pivots and tosses the ball to the second baseman.

Aaron Miranda smiles from the shaded dugout at his teammate. He’s been playing baseball for only about four years. He’s nowhere as skilled as his buddies who’ve been playing since first grade. But he loves the game. He does.

And he so misses the exhilaration of catching a baseball on the run. “I can’t wait to do that. I can’t wait to play ball again,” he says.

It’s been about four weeks since the Terra Linda High School senior returned home to California from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. He’s still feeling some aftereffects of his cancer treatments. Six weeks of daily proton treatments. Five weeks of chemotherapy.

“The treatments have affected my vision,” Aaron says. “It’s a little blurry in my right eye. But the doctor said it would go away. I haven’t tested out catching a baseball and testing my depth perception yet. I want to do that soon.”

Last September, doctors in San Rafael, California, discovered a lesion beside Aaron’s right eye. “It looked like a large grape,” Aaron recalls. By the time of his surgery in November, “it grew to the size of a walnut.”

An incision was made across Aaron’s right eyelid to his right temple. “They opened it up and cut out a small piece of bone to enter behind my eye,” says Aaron. “They moved some muscle and nerves. And they had a clear opening to the lesion.”

Doctors removed the mass and found it to be a rare type of carcinoma, a periorbital cancer. “They were worried that the microcells of the cancer were still working around in there,” he says. “My biggest fear was that I would lose my right eye. So, that’s why they sent me to Houston. My doctor wanted me to go to Texas. He knew there was specialist there who’s been using protons for a lot of years to treat this kind of cancer.”

The doctors, nurses and radiation therapists at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center put Aaron and his mom at ease. “They were awesome,” he says. Aaron was the 5,000th patient treated at the center, which opened in 2006.

A radiation therapist set up the gantry at a specific angle to fire protons at a target area precisely near Aaron’s right eye. Aaron recalls that when they fired the protons the first time, “I started to smell the protons themselves. Like something burning. So, I asked questions. ‘Is my smelling the protons normal?’ They said, ‘Yes. For some patients, they smell it.’” He learned the scent was related to the proximity of the proton entrance dose to his nostrils, just inches away.

“The chemo was the real one that was taking a toll on me,” Aaron says. “I would feel really weak and nauseous. I had to have my mom wheelchair me out because I couldn’t walk.” Steroids helped relieve Aaron of his fatigue and nausea, which are common side effects of chemotherapy. “When the steroids weren’t working, I was much weaker,” he remembers.

“By the time of my last proton treatment, I had made so many friends at MD Anderson,” Aaron says. “I was so happy. I laid down on that treatment table and I said to myself, ‘Let’s get this over with. Let’s see where this takes me now.’”

Aaron hopes to attend the University of California this fall. He’s eyeing either the Berkeley or Davis campuses. He wants to be a physicist. He thinks that would be a great career.

But for now, looking out at his teammates on the ball field, practicing for the next game, Aaron just wants to be among them.

There are about a dozen games left before the season ends in early May. It’s Aaron’s last season with the high school squad. He knows he’ll be out there soon. Running. Running. And catching one more fly ball.



WEB REVIEW – Breast Cancer Patient Finds A New Way To Fight

Anastasia Berkheimer, a San Diego woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer for a second time found a new way of fighting the disease. So far, so good : she is now cancer free.

Anastasia beat cancer the first time with radiation, but it was painful. She went to her doctor, who told her she got second to third degree burns during her treatment. “I thought I was fine but then one test turned out to be not good.”

It was right around that time she heard about Scripps Proton Therapy Center opening in San Diego. It aims to treat cancer patients with a new laser technology the size of a pencil lead allowing doctors to hit tumors without affecting the surrounding normal tissue.


“I had doubts”, Anastasia said, but she gave it a try earlier this month and became the center’s first breast cancer patient.

Unlike her 4 month long radiation treatment, her proton therapy was over in 2 weeks. Now cancer free, she’s getting back what cancer tried to take away, even if she knows there’s still a chance the cancer may come back.