WEB REVIEW – The story of a 3-time cancer survivor

Larry Zaruba, 59, a retired teacher of auto mechanics at Yoakum High School, Texas, has survived three battles against cancer during the past decade.

After smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes a day for 25 years, Zaruba quit cold turkey at the age of 41. However, he did not avoid the onset of three different cancers. “Smokers can retain damage several decades,” said Dr. William Morrison from MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. “But there’s always a benefit to quitting and the sooner, the better.”

In 2003, Larry was diagnosed with soft palate cancer. He had proton therapy five days a week for six weeks at the Houston cancer center. Then in 2007, his weight dropped, and he began coughing up blood. He had stage 2 lung cancer. After 3 months of chemotherapy, half of Larry’s right lung was surgically removed. It contained a tumor the size of a lemon.

Larry remained cancer-free until his vocal chord cancer in 2013, which was treated with 34 PT treatments. The process was complicated by his previous cancer. “Too much exposure is dangerous,” Dr. Morrison said. “A specialized treatment was designed for his unique situation.”

“This is miracle number three, and we’re done with cancer,” his wife Zaruba said. “You can’t take it for granted; life is too short,” Larry said. “You’ve got to take care of yourself.”



WEB REVIEW – PT better than IMRT for head & neck cancer

Proton beam therapy (PT) has a significant advantage over intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT) when it comes to improving disease-free survival and tumor control in patients with head and neck cancers according to a study by Mayo Clinic radiation oncologists.

The study was published in Lancet Oncology and involved a systematic review of the literature on outcomes of proton beam therapy compared to IMRT. The analysis included studies of patients who had had no previous treatment, as well as patients who had a recurrent disease. They collected data on overall survival, disease-free survival, and tumor control at five years and at the patient’s longest follow-up.

They found disease-free survival to be significantly higher at 5 years for patients receiving proton beam therapy (72%) compared to those receiving IMRT (50%). The rates on tumor control didn’t differ between the two groups at 5 years, but was significantly higher for patients receiving proton beam therapy (81%) than those undergoing IMRT (64%) at the longer follow-up period.


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Work on 1,500-acre Oklahoma ranch never ends for prostate cancer survivor

There’s always work to be done on the Lazy KT ranch in northwest Oklahoma. Tending to a herd of Black Angus beef cattle. Hauling hay. Cleaning out horse stalls. Repairing a fence line. It’s a life Michael Horntvedt just loves.

The 1,500-acre ranch has been in his wife Katie Blunk’s family for three generations. It’s located outside of Freedom, Oklahoma, population 289. Michael and Katie’s closest neighbor lives five miles away — so different from the big city of Reno, Nevada, where they moved from five years ago.

But their peace and solitude on the Oklahoma plains was rocked when, at age 53, Michael was diagnosed with prostate cancer in March 2013.

Michael had been monitoring his PSA level for about four years and this time the number had jumped significantly. “And that’s when you sit down with your friendly urologist after your biopsy and he says point blank, ‘You have to have surgery,’ ” Michael recalls. “Wow. To a certain degree, it blows the wind out of your sails.”

Hearing “cancer” was bad enough, but Michael and Katie were even more put off by how Michael’s urologist delivered the news. Cold. Detached. Just the facts. “He said impotence is fifty-fifty; incontinence is a 20 percent shot,” Michael says.

“Everything you thought about living your life was going to be totally and majorly changed after you walked out of that office,” Michael continues. “We were building a home on our ranch at the time, and I was doing a lot of the work. So, the thought of 20 percent chance of incontinence didn’t sound too good.”

Katie shared the news of Michael’s cancer on her Facebook page. Friends and family from near and far posted words of kindness and sympathy.

And some offered advice about treatment options — primarily what not to do. “You know, you watch TV at night and those impotence and incontinence commercials take on a whole new light,” says Michael. “More and more, we veered away from surgery.”

A couple of friends phoned who knew of men who had successfully been treated with proton therapy, something Michael had not heard of before. “My urologist never mentioned it,” Michael says.

Michael obtained an information packet from the Slater Proton Treatment and Research Center at Loma Linda University Medical Center in  Loma Linda, California. It included a copy of Bob Marckini’s book, You Can Beat Prostate Cancer. The book really connected with Michael.

Protons appeared to offer the lowest risk of those side effects that would affect Michael’s quality of life. “We’re riding horses and motorcycles,” Michael says. “It’s hunting and fishing and running cattle. I didn’t want to lose that.”

Michael and Katie were sorting out the prospect of living in Loma Linda for two months. “Then, we found out there was a center right here in Oklahoma City, just three hours away,” Michael says. They visited the ProCure Proton Therapy Center and liked what they saw — and what they heard. Unlike the cold, assembly-line feeling they experienced from the urologist, “this was a very positive environment,” he notes.

The optimism and care exhibited by nurses, radiation therapy technologists and physicians at the proton center was huge for Katie and Michael. It provided hope that Michael could live a normal life based on medical science. And it helped buffer memories of how prostate cancer had harmed both Katie and Michael’s late fathers.

Michael talked with other men who had been treated for prostate cancer with protons. “All those conversations were totally different from the conversations I had had with people who did surgery,” says Michael.

Michael began his proton treatments in September 2013. They ended nine weeks later, just in time for the most meaningful Thanksgiving of all times.

“Once you get over the modesty aspect, it’s hard to believe anything is happening,” Michael says. “It’s bam-bam and they’re done. It didn’t seem real.”

Michael stayed at the home of a sweet relative not far from Oklahoma City during the week. He continued to work his day job as a financial advisor. On the weekends, he returned to the ranch to catch up on chores.

“The doctor told me being as healthy as I am, I wouldn’t have any downtime,” Michael says. “He said I might feel fatigued. But I didn’t. I never stopped the work around the ranch I had to do. I never thought twice about it.”

Michael says he recently visited with a client in Reno, Nevada. “He had had radical prostatectomy and the side effects were a huge mess,” says Michael. “I had to sit there across the table from him and not say, ‘Everything is fine with me.’ ”

WEB REVIEW – Patient experience at ProCure, Somerset

Cancer patients seek PT at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset. Find out about their stories.

Charles Piparo, 78, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in August of last year. Proton therapy at ProCure is the reason for his speedy recovery. He received 44 treatments over a 90-day period. After a six-week follow-up treatment, his tumor was gone. He is now in remission and will only be receiving another 90-day injection as a precaution.

Norma Evans, 73, was also impressed with the treatment she received at ProCure. After a tumor was found on her pituitary gland, she underwent surgery in September. Pieces of the tumor had to be left on Evans’s optic nerve. As a result, Evans was advised to undergo radiation therapy as a preventative measure. A month after her 29 treatments, an MRI indicated that no tumor cells were detectable. Unlike Charles, Norma did not need any extra treatment.

Proton beam therapy has been used as treatment since the 1950s, but it has not expanded until the past decade. In the past 50 years, 60,000 cancer patients have been treated with proton therapy, and in the three years since the New Jersey ProCure facility opened, it has treated 1,000.

Source : http://www.mycentraljersey.com/story/life/wellness/2014/07/08/proton-therapy-provides-less-invasive-option/12375885/]

Fewer side effects lead patients with head and neck cancers to protons

Proton radiation oncologists continue to be optimistic about the early results they are seeing in treating head and neck cancers.

In the Czech Republic, a leading radiation oncologist reports that patients there who have been treated for head and neck cancers with protons are experiencing far fewer side effects than those typically experienced by photon radiation patients.

“Protons have huge benefits,” says Dr. Jiří Kubeš, head of proton therapy at the Proton Therapy Center Czech in Prague. The facility opened in June 2012.

Using pencil beam scanning, Dr. Kubeš and his associates are seeing much smaller doses of inadvertent proton radiation going to critical structures that control the senses of smell, taste, vision and hearing.

As a result, common acute side effects — those that occur during treatment — such as dry mouth or poor saliva production, which can impair eating, are occurring less frequently among head and neck proton patients.

“These patients don’t need tube feeding,” he says. “More than half of patients treated for head and neck cancers with photon radiation require tube feeding.”

Unlike proton beams, conventional photon radiation doesn’t just hit a cancer tumor and stop. Photon rays tend to spread more unintentional — and harmful — radiation to nearby healthy tissues and organs. Those splashes of radiation typically occur with each photon treatment. And later in life, having survived the original cancer, patients may find they’re battling another form of cancer or some type of organ disease.

But the risk of similar side effects arising years later appear much lower for proton patients because their treatment exposed healthy tissues and organs to significantly less inadvertent radiation.

A 32-year-old woman from Slovakia is one such case, Dr. Kubeš recalls. Her name is Gabriela. And shortly after she married, Gabriela experienced an excruciating toothache. Her face swelled. And she felt pressure under her right eye. A CT scan illuminated a 6-centimeter tumor growing in the sinus area of her face. Surgery for Gabriela would risk permanent damage to one eye. Treatment with targeted proton beams dramatically lowered that risk.

“She is in complete remission,” Dr. Kubeš says.

Gabriela did endure some minor side effects during the time of her proton treatments, he said, including a radiation skin rash on her face and increased tiredness. “All of those small side effects went away within a month of her final treatment,” says Dr. Kubeš. “Six months after treatment, we are seeing no side effects from protons.”

Head and neck cancers currently account for about one in five cancer patients who are being treated with protons at the Proton Therapy Center Czech, according to Dr. Kubeš. But he expects the incidence of oropharyngeal cancers, a type of head and neck cancer, to increase in the coming years especially among men and women aged 20 to 50.

Many oropharyngeal cancers, such as tonsil cancer, stem from exposure to the human papillomavirus during sexual contact, he notes.

When caught early and treated with a combination of surgery and protons, tonsil cancer can be eradicated and this group of young and middle-aged adults can lead normal lives, says Dr. Kubeš.

“These patients have an excellent prognosis,” says Dr. Kubeš. “The reduction in late-stage cancer is what’s most desired. We can spare the pharynx. We can spare the esophagus. We can spare the majority of the oral cavity. We can spare the cochlear area that impacts hearing. And we can spare the lower part of the brain.”



WEB REVIEW – 6-year-old bravely battling brain cancer

Kailyn Hewitt is much like any other 6-year-old girl who likes swimming, coloring and playing dress up, except she has already endured 3 brain surgeries and many other setbacks from her rare form of cancer.


On August 23rd last year, the little girl was diagnosed with anaplastic ependymoma, a rapidly growing type of brain cancer, found near her cerebellum and brain stem. Approximately 200 similar cases are diagnosed in the US each year in children and young adults. This type of cancer never goes into remission.

Since her diagnosis, she has experienced three brain surgeries in less than two months, a blood clot, a spinal fluid leak, an infection, two months of proton radiation therapy, post-traumatic stress disorder and physical therapy. Now, eye surgery may be on the horizon. All before her first day of kindergarten.  “She has the highest grade of what she has, which means that basically it will come back. The question is when?” Kailyn’s 36-year-old mother said.

Since her diagnosis, medical bills have piled up. “The bills are just insane,” her mother said. “By the time of her second surgery, we were getting foreclosure notices.” Money and support from family, friends and complete strangers have been helping them keep afloat.


Find the entire story here


WEB REVIEW – Fundraiser for basketball coach with throat cancer

“Team Haske United” is the theme for the July 27th fundraiser at Charlevoix High School to benefit Keith Haske, the former Charlevoix coach and current St. Francis basketball coach, who is battling throat cancer.


Keith, 56 years old, was diagnosed with throat cancer last May. It came as a surprise to those who know the coach, a non-smoker. Keith opted for proton therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston because it is considered one of the leading treatment centers for throat cancer. He has been undergoing treatment there for the last month.



Those who played and coached for Haske are invited to participate in the basketball fundraiser, set for 1 p.m. the Sunday after the city’s popular Venetian Festival. “We’re all uniting for one man,” event coordinator Liz Shaw said. “Keith’s been such a positive influence on so many people in northern Michigan. There’s been a tremendous outpouring of support from people who want to give back, who want to help in any way.” All proceeds will help with medical bills and expenses.


Source : http://www.record-eagle.com/sports/x1927834032/Fundraiser-set-for-Traverse-City-St-Francis-basketball-coach

Advances in technology, clear clinical benefits will drive more cancer doctors to use protons

The latest technical advancement in proton therapy is already providing such compelling early evidence of its benefit for patients, a leading radiation oncologist predicts it will become standard treatment for many cancers.


In use at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center in Houston, Texas, for more than three years now, intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT) permits doctors to treat one tiny section of a tumor at a time — even as small as a pixel — by adjusting the proton beam dose, direction and depth to wider and narrower contours of the target, while significantly reducing the amount of unintentional radiation hitting nearby healthy tissue.


IMPT pairs the precision of pencil beam scanning with the latest three-dimensional imaging technology to map the exact size, shape, density and location of the tumor, and its proximity to neighboring organs. It’s being deployed at several proton centers around the world.


MD Anderson has used IMPT to treat more than 1,500 cancer patients so far. And radiation oncologists there are currently conducting four clinical trials comparing IMPT to intensity modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), the preferred radiation treatment at cancer centers that don’t have access to protons.


Steven Frank, M.D., medical director at MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, is so encouraged by patient results that he anticipates IMPT will eventually replace IMRT as the go-to radiation treatment for most malignant tumors.


“Our job is to focus radiation on the tumor and eliminate it from areas it doesn’t need to be,” said Dr. Frank. “With IMPT, you have less radiation going in before the tumor and no radiation coming behind the tumor. IMPT will allow us to treat any cancer we currently treat with IMRT — and curtail the side effects both acutely and long-term.”


Dr. Frank first put IMPT to use in 2010 to help a 33-year-old mother of three who other cancer centers had refused to treat. Her tumor was located inside her nasal pharynx and was wrapped around her brainstem. “She came to us,” he recalled. “We couldn’t treat her with IMRT. But this technology, IMPT, allowed us to give her the doses needed to eliminate her disease. Three and a half years later, she has no evidence of disease.”


IMPT’s early clinical results are spurring more and more radiation oncologists to install a proton therapy system at their cancer centers.

“The problem is it can’t come fast enough because of cost,” Dr. Frank added. But there, too, advances in technology are helping make proton systems more affordable to more cancer centers in the United States, Europe and Asia, he added.


Proton centers built five to 15 years ago required buildings the size of a football field to hold the immense and intricate system that generates the proton beams used for cancer treatment. The system’s 130-ton particle accelerator and beam line are housed within concrete walls that are 9 to 12 feet thick, and strong enough to support 20 floors overhead. Typically, those walls support a 90-ton gantry for each of the treatment rooms.  The gantry permits the proton beam nozzle to rotate almost fully around the patient. The price tag for a proton center with four to five treatment rooms back then was about $150 million to $200 million dollars — a major financial barrier for most cancer centers.


But in recent years, proton system makers have dramatically reduced the size of the accelerator and beam line by 60 to 70 percent. And the cost has dropped almost as much for a single treatment room system.


“As the footprint becomes smaller and the cost comes down, you’ll see a proliferation of proton therapy,” Dr. Frank said.


According to the Proton Therapy Consortium, half of the 26 proton centers currently under construction around the world are single-room proton facilities.


WEB REVIEW – Retired engineer with prostate cancer

Joe Tuftnell, 70, was not convinced when his doctors told him that the best course of treatment for his early-stage prostate cancer was to do nothing. Instead, he went to Prague to have his tumor destroyed by proton beam therapy, not available on the NHS.


Joe was diagnosed last April and was told by his hospital consultant that the cancer could be managed with ‘active surveillance’. He could not see the point of waiting for the condition to worsen, but the alternatives (surgery and traditional radiation therapy) involved considerable risk of impotence and incontinence.


Then last year he was visiting a friend in Prague when he saw a newspaper article about the Prague Proton Therapy Centre, which offers proton beam therapy, which is less destructive to surrounding tissue and less likely to cause side-effects. “The success rates were the same as conventional treatments offered in the UK,” says Joe. “While there was no guarantee I’d not suffer side-effects, the chances looked promising.”


Joe gathered his life savings and had the 16.000£ procedure last June. “There was no pain or discomfort”, he remembers. “I left the hospital within an hour of arriving… My PSA has now dropped from 7 to 1.8 and I’m living a normal life !”


Sources : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2566904/Prostate-cancer-breakthrough-NHS-wont-offer-It-spare-men-like-Joe-effects-treatment-So-available-abroad.html


WEB REVIEW : Young Kazakh girl needs proton therapy abroad

Zlata Bruner, a 3-year-old girl from Pavlodar, Kazakhstan, has been diagnosed with a stage IV neuroblastoma that cannot be cured in her native country. Her parents have not given up and are trying to support her treatment in South Korea.


It all began last July, when Zlata’s knee started to ache. Her doctors said it was arthritis. The pain went on and off for a while, and in September, a bruise appeared around her left eye. Her parents took her to the hospital, where a series of tests revealed an abdominal tumor and two tumors in her eye. The neuroblastoma diagnosis was then established.


Her treatment plan included surgery, chemotherapy, a bone marrow transplant, proton therapy and immunotherapy. After many letters and phone calls, Zlata’s parents found a proton therapy clinic in South Korea willing to accept and treat their daughter. However, the financial cost is unbearable for the young family, who needs as much help as possible to allow Zlata to complete her treatment.


Master of sand animation Kseniya Simonova decided to help by devoting her new work to the young girl: http://simonova.tv/en/blog/article/golden-ray. If you too want to help Zlata fight her cancer, please visit the following link: http://www.gofundme.com/savezlata.


Sources: http://www.gofundme.com/savezlata, http://simonova.tv/en/blog/article/golden-ray, https://www.giveforward.com/fundraiser/01k3/save-zlata-from-cancer