Weekly Web Review – Week 42

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is improving cancer care and offering a better quality of life during and after treatment.


Scott fighting cancer with proton therapy


Steve Scott, 58, former Olympian and American record holder in the mile, thought he was done when his doctors diagnosed him with prostate cancer. Then he found out about proton therapy.

Twenty years ago, Steve had already beaten testicular cancer and survived a pulmonary embolism. So he was in great shock when he learned about his prostate cancer, as he had no symptom.

He was also depressed about his options: as the cancerous tumor was resting on a nerve bundle, surgery would have been terribly invasive, and traditional radiation treatment would have attacked both good and bad cells. Then on a family trip to Wisconsin, proton therapy was suggested.

After a lot of soul searching, Steve made the call to the Scripps Proton Therapy Center.

“Steve was a perfect candidate for treatment because he has a long life expectancy”, said his doctor at Scripps. “And, yes, it absolutely helps that Steve is an athlete”.

Steve is now six weeks into an eight-week program. He has treatment at 2:30 p.m. five days a week. “The best thing is that I have no fatigue, no hair loss, no diarrhea. Really, I don’t feel like I have cancer. That’s why I want to get the word out. I want men to realize they need to get treated, need to see a doctor on a regular basis.”


Source : http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/18/cal-state-san-marcos-track-olympics-scott/



Decreased costs and improved care with PT

A recent research published in Oncology Payers discusses the quality of life benefits and cost-savings of intensity modulated proton therapy (IMPT or proton therapy) with traditional x-ray therapy for advanced stage head and neck cancer.

The main author of the paper, Dr. Steven Frank, highlights two oropharyngeal cancer patients, one of whom received proton therapy and the other x-ray treatments. Both patients received chemotherapy. The study showed that although the upfront costs of proton therapy were three times that of standard x-ray treatments, the proton therapy patient was spared the necessity of a feeding tube, nutritional and supportive care and weight loss that accompanied the x-ray treatments. By the end of the treatment period, the total care costs for the proton therapy patient were 20% lower than the x-ray treatment plan.

To evaluate the costs, Dr. Frank has been employing a costing tool that places the emphasis on the value of medical care, both monetary and in terms of quality of life. Dr. Frank plans to enroll 360 patients over the next five years as well as to open the study to other cancer centers. He notes that the results will be especially valuable as health insurance companies look to further bundled insurance payments.


Source : http://medicalresearch.com/cancer-_-oncology/proton_therapy_may_decrease_overall_costs_while_improving_quality_of_cancer_care/8338/



Beating breast cancer twice

Anastasia Custis Berkheimer, 72, was diagnosed with cancer twice since 2011. Two tumors were found in both her breasts after an interval of only 2 years.

She became suspicious that something was wrong in October 2011. « I could feel a lump in my right breast that caused me some pain. In November, I had a lumpectomy and was told it was definitely cancer », she said.

Her doctors wanted to do a full mastectomy followed by chemotherapy, but she knew it would leave her both emotionally and physically weak, and couldn’t handle it. So she searched online for other options and found a clinic in Los Angeles that offered alternate therapy for cancer. In early 2012, she underwent 16 out of her 20 scheduled radiation sessions because she didn’t react well to the treatment. However, further testing put her in the clear and she thought she was done with it.

But last fall, a tumor was found in her other breast. She underwent surgery but refused chemotherapy and decided to wait for the opening of a new proton therapy center in San Diego. She chose PT because it was safer than traditional X-rays for her heart condition, as this type of treatment is able to precisely aim at cancer cells while protecting surrounding tissues, that is her heart and lung, located just under the breast.

She was the first patient treated for breast cancer at the center. And there were no side effects : « I didn’t feel bad. I didn’t get the same burns and rashes like I did the first time around ». She had a mammogram last month and everything looks fine.


Source : http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/14/ukulele-player-breast-cancer/2/?#article-copy

Penn Medicine hosts immersion program for clinicians, physicists, administrators new to proton therapy

Cancer center administrators, clinicians and medical physicists who are considering adding proton therapy to their cancer-fighting armamentarium will want to attend a three-day proton therapy immersion program on November 21–23, at Penn Medicinein Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.The Inaugural Course on Proton Therapy offers an overview of financing and developing a proton therapy center, its technology and daily operations, and the clinical application of protons. Classes will be taught by faculty, practitioners and administrators from the Roberts Proton Therapy Center.

“As an academic center, one of our three missions, including patient care and research, is education,” says Neha Vapiwala, M.D., vice chair of education at the Perelman School of Medicine, and associate professor of radiation oncology at the Abramson Cancer Center and Roberts Proton Therapy Center. “And who better to teach those who are considering a proton center than the academic faculty and staff whose job it is to further our understanding of proton therapy each and every day.”

Many cancer center executives are thinking seriously about adding protons to their clinical programs. Construction costs are no longer regarded as obstacles. That’s because the size of new proton beam systems — and the space required — have decreased significantly in recent years. A single-treatment-room system, for example, can be developed for $25 million to $30 million, a fraction of the $150 million multi-room systems built just a few years ago.

Still, building and operating a proton treatment center is no easy feat. “It’s a highly complex and complicated endeavor,” Dr. Vapiwala says. “There are very specific clinical, technical and operational issues that go into the development and operation of a proton therapy center.”

Attendees of the Inaugural Program will learn directly from administrators, medical physicists and radiation oncologists who have been running the Roberts Proton Therapy Center since it opened in 2010. “This is an opportunity to learn from the successes and mistakes of others who embraced proton therapy years ago,” says Dr. Vapiwala.

The program will include a tour of the Roberts Proton Therapy Center, comprised of four gantry treatment rooms and one fixed-beam treatment room. Clinicians at the Roberts Proton Therapy Center were among the first to deploy pencil beam scanning, an advanced proton beam treatment modality that enables intensity modulated proton therapy.

As a new proton center prepares to treat its first patients, clinicians, physicists, therapists, dosimetrists and administrators should rely upon the support and guidance of peers at other proton centers, Dr. Vapiwala adds. OncoLink, an online, in-depth resource for patients and professionals, and a co-sponsor of the three-day course, offers an online education module.

“The Roberts Proton Therapy Center also offers onsite shadowing and observing in our department,” says Dr. Vapiwala, who also is an OncoLink senior editor. “Radiation oncology is such a small specialty and not well understood by many people, both within and outside the healthcare industry. One of the aspects that contributes to its complexity is that radiation oncology comprises a varied team — physicists, dosimetrists, nurses and physicians. There are thus multiple radiation oncology professionals who can spend quality time at the course, interact with their colleagues, and walk away with a far richer understanding of proton therapy.”

To register click here: http://www.cvent.com/events/penn-medicine-department-of-radiation-oncology-inaugural-course-on-proton-therapy/agenda-e03375dea5864de0967a5b3542f5d295.aspx


Educating others about oral cancer is new mission for cancer survivor

Mary Prorokovic would like to talk to you about your mouth.

Specifically, she would like to know if you are familiar with the symptoms of oral cancer and whether you’ve discussed them with your dentist or primary care physician.

And it’s not just you: Mary will talk about oral cancer with anyone who will listen, from salespeople on the phone to friendly faces on the street. It’s that important to her.

“I just stop people randomly,” she says. “If people misunderstand me, or if I’m in an elevator or a restaurant, I tell people what happened to me — strangers, anyone who shows me kindness. Because I didn’t know. I really think that a lot of doctors don’t know.”

Mary, now 55 and living in Port Chester, New York, was diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013. She went to the dentist about a cracked tooth, which eventually needed to be pulled. That developed quickly into a hole in her mouth, and then the oral surgeon had more bad news: a carcinoma.

An otherwise healthy nonsmoker, Mary had never thought of herself as a someone at risk for oral cancer and had never discussed it with her dentist.

After a 12-hour surgery to remove the carcinoma by doctors at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, Mary chose to have proton therapy at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Somerset, New Jersey. There, she underwent 30 proton treatments.

“I am forever grateful for the warm welcome, the expertise,” Mary says. “My daughter is an X-ray tech and she said, ‘Ma, I never saw anything like this. There is not an ounce of negativity.’”

Even after treatments have ended, the effects of oral cancer follow patients in their daily lives. Mary is open about the challenges she faces, big and small.

Oral cancer, she says, has taken away a lot of her personal life. She describes frequent changes of clothes and using packs of napkins to deal with drooling, brushing teeth more often and more carefully, and always choosing restaurants that have soft or sauced food on the menu. No more sandwiches, no more fast eating.

Most difficult, she says, as a devout Catholic, is that she can no longer take communion. “That has been the hardest of hard.”

“Every day is a battle,” Mary says, “because you’re wondering if people will understand you. I wonder if people will think I look funny, if people will think I’m a smoker. I have to talk louder now. This is not who I am. This is the loud Mary.”

But Mary describes all of this in her clear, slow and practiced diction without any kind of bitterness or self-pity. She just wants people to know.

“Because I have faith and proper care, I have overcome the battle,” she says. “I’m very open about my journey because nobody every talked to me about oral cancer.”

Mary urges each and every one of those strangers and casual acquaintances to be their own advocates and ask their doctors for oral cancer screenings. She urges dentists and hygienists to ask the right questions, look at every patient’s mouth and hand out pamphlets.

“It’s just something my heart wants to share. It’s how I repay what I’ve been given.”

Weekly Web Review – Week 41

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is giving hope and saving more and more families from harm.

Matt jets off to the US for proton therapy

Young dad Matt Rackley has flown to Oklahoma just five months after a campaign was launched to raise £150,000 to pay for pioneering treatment that could save his life.

Matt, 24,  was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2012 and was told that he could be dead by April 2014. As conventional radiotherapy was ruled out (it could damage the tissue surrounding Matt’s brain), the Rackleys set out on a mission to get him to America for proton therapy.

In May, the Matt’s Fund campaign was launched. About £170,000 has been raised. Matt’s brother said: “It’s been amazing. For such a short period of time, to raise that money, has been mad. It’s phenomenal how everyone came together, got it done and the fact that it’s actually happening now. It’s happening. I’m overwhelmed.”

Yesterday morning Matt and his partner Hollie flew from Heathrow to Oklahoma City for the nine-week procedure.

Matt says he is feeling ok but is understandably nervous ahead of the operation. He is due to meet doctors today, and starts treatment in a week. Any excess cash will be given to the Kids ‘n’ Cancer charity.


Source :  http://www.maidenhead-advertiser.co.uk/News/Areas/Maidenhead/Matt-Rackley-jets-off-to-America-for-proton-therapy-treatment-08102014.htm?__utma=104464540.485581335.1413029608.1413029608.1413029608.1&__utmb=104464540.1.10.1413029608&__utmc=104464540&__utmx=-&__utmz=104464540.1413029608.1.1.utmcsr=proton-therapy-today.com|utmccn=(referral)|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/&__utmv=-&__utmk=191194026

P.I.N.K. brings in hope for breast cancer survivors

The breast cancer research foundation Play for P.I.N.K. (Prevention, Immediate diagnosis, New technology, Knowledge) is funding life saving research projects every year and making the ultimate difference for many women with breast cancer.

Women like Viki Zarkin, who was diagnosed in January of 2011 with stage four breast cancer. “The doctor said go home and die, there’s nothing I can do for you. But I told them they needed to come up with a better plan than that,” Viki said. That better plan involved finding a doctor who used a special treatment called Proton Radiation Therapy that has helped extend her life. Now, thanks to Play For P.I.N.K., more research will be done to help other patients. “This research is going to benefit me and thousands of other like me, who are still on chemo. We need that research.” Zarkin said.

Funded entirely by Bloomburg and Estee Lauder, P.I.N.K. is a national organization that provides a fun way to raise money and awareness.


Sources : http://local21news.com/news/features/mad/stories/pink-brings-lots-green-breast-cancer-survivors-107.shtml , http://www.playforpink.org

 Lifesaving USA trip for two-year-old boy

A two-year-old boy will fly to Oklahoma for proton therapy treatment that could save him from a rare form of cancer, after the NHS agreed to pay the £100,000 cost.

Tyler Brown was diagnosed in April with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer affecting his spine, after he woke up one morning unable to walk or support the weight of his head. Surgeons were planning to remove the tumor but it was too close to vital nerves, and the surgery would have left him with disabilities so severe he would have been unable to walk or eat unaided.

Instead, doctors suggested proton therapy treatment, which is not available in the UK yet, and a panel of NHS experts approved the £100,000 cost after studying details of Tyler’s condition.

He will fly out with his father next weekend to start a course of treatment which is expected to continue until shortly before Christmas. When that is over, doctors will have to continue administering chemotherapy to give Tyler the best chance of a permanent cure.


Source : http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/news/11516052.Lifesaving_USA__trip_for_Bradford_boy_after_NHS_covers__pound_100_000_treatment_cost/

Weekly Web Review – Week 40

Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping more and more people and is improving cancer outcomes.


5-year-old all clear from cancer

Harvey Thompson, a five-year-old boy from York, UK went to the United States for pioneering cancer treatment and is now clear of the his brain tumor.

Harvey was found to have a tumor the size of an orange in his brain and he underwent an urgent 13-hour operation to remove it. He then went to Oklahoma earlier this year for proton therapy to safely remove the final part of the tumor from his brain stem. A scan taken this week has confirmed Harvey is now cancer-free.

Harvey’s dad said: “He is doing really well. Part of the tumor is still there but it’s not cancerous. He’s doing really well at school. He is a totally different child now that he is back from America.”

As reported previously in the press, the Thompson family received financial help from the charity Kids ‘n’ Cancer UK while they were in America. “We want to thank the people that did donate for their generosity and now Harvey is hopefully in the clear.”


Source : http://www.yorkpress.co.uk/news/11500329.Harvey__5__gets_cancer_all_clear/


Young cancer patients’ reunion

A group of British children who received pioneering cancer treatment in America came together in Chesterfield for a special reunion. More than 300 people attended the event, with patients between three and 20 years old, and their families.

National charity Kids ‘n’ Cancer UK, based in Chesterfield, coordinated the reunion of around 50 youngsters who have received proton therapy treatment at either the ProCure Proton Therapy Centre in Oklahoma City or the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville. The families attended a special dinner and joined in the celebrations the following day.

Kids ‘n’ Cancer was formed four years ago and has so far helped 70 children to receive life-saving Proton Therapy treatment in the USA. The charity also helps to fund living and accommodation for patients who receive government funding for their treatment.


Source : http://yorkshiretimes.co.uk/article/Special-reunion-event-for-young-cancer-patients


100th milestone at Scripps

Scripps Health in California has reached a milestone in cancer treatment this month, as it completed its 100th treatment using proton therapy, which targets cancer cells with “laser-type” focus.

The proton therapy center, which opened seven months ago, is one of 14 such locations in the nation. Originally treating straightforward cancers, such as prostate cancer, the center has now treated patients with tumors in the lung, brain, spinal chord, base of skull, head and neck, central nervous systems, pancreas, rectum, esophagus, breast, and testis, among others.

The center is giving patients a higher level of care. « With proton therapy, Scripps Health now offers patients the complete spectrum of cancer treatment options in San Diego County, based on what is best for each individual situation, » Scripps vice president said. « Next, the health system wants to spread the word to the public about available treatments and also be involved with research studies to optimize proton therapy use. »


Source : https://thecoastnews.com/2014/09/scripps-reaches-milestone-with-cancer-treatment-option/

Weekly web review

Check out the latest news about proton therapy :  this week, find out how this state-of-the-art cancer treatment helps saving young people facing the battle of their lives.

5-yearl-old saved by PT

Young Logan Green of Arizona was given just days to live, but now looks forward to his first day of kindergarten.

Last June, Logan was air-lifted to a hospital after he collapsed and was diagnosed with an aggressive and inoperable brain tumor. His doctors said he was likely to have only three days to live and advised against further medical treatment.

Fortunately, a second medical opinion led to successful surgery to remove most of the tumor. Logan still required radiation therapy to kill any remaining cells to keep the disease from returning : « after learning about the serious side effects that standard X-ray radiation treatment can have on children, we learned that proton radiation therapy is an alternative that can help minimize possible long-term damage, » said Logan’s mother.

Logan’s proton treatments have been delivered successfully, though it will take several years to ensure the tumor does not return. A conventional X-ray treatment beam would have continued past Logan’s tumor and irradiated healthy portions of his brain, face and throat, increasing his probability of side effects such as cognitive and memory problems, as well as secondary cancers caused by the radiation.

Now that Logan has completed cancer treatments at Scripps Proton Therapy Center in San Diego on September 23rd, he and his family plan to return to Arizona, where his kindergarten teacher has saved his seat in class, awaiting his arrival to school in October.


Source : http://www.biospace.com/News/scripps-health-release-5-year-old-brain-cancer/347459/source=MoreNews?__tw_private=2014440877













Proton Therapy for Ashya’s brain tumor

5-year-old Ashya King received proton therapy treatment in the Czech Republic for his brain tumor thanks to his parents, who faced an international police hunt after they removed their son from Southampton General Hospital on August 28 without medical consent.

Brett and Naghemeh King from Southsea, UK faced a legal battle to get their child to Prague’s Proton Therapy Centre (PTC) after removing him from hospital, with a High Court judge approving the move after they had been released from police custody in Spain.

The NHS has agreed to fund his treatment : « Now that Ashya is in Prague, it is clearly best that he continues to be treated uninterrupted so the NHS has agreed to fund this care, as requested by his parents », a spokesman for NHS England said. « We all join in wishing him well, and greatly hope he makes a full and successful recovery. »’

According to the PTC, Ashya’s medulloblastoma can really benefit from proton therapy, which can be much better modulated and precisely focused into the tumor volume, thus protecting surrounding tissue such as the heart, lung, liver and intestines.


Source : http://www.heart.co.uk/southcoast/news/local/nhs-agrees-to-fund-ashya-kings-proton-beam-therapy/


Saving teens with proton therapy

Today, thousands of teens are in the fight of their lives : they are fighting cancer. One teenager from Florida, USA won her battle and hopes to inspire others to do the same.

Kathleen Patti, an 18-year-old survivor, is among a growing number of children and teens who are surviving cancer. In the 1950s, only 20% of pediatric cancer patients survived their diagnosis, but today the survival rate is 80%.

At 7, Kathleen’s radiation cured her cancer, but caused a secondary tumor. After chemo, she underwent proton therapy. It was able to kill her tumor and nothing else, as one of the things that makes this treatment so successful for children is its targeting radiation. Kids are still growing, so the less healthy tissue you hit with radiation, the better.

For Patti, two rounds of cancer was not something to fear, but rather, to overcome.

“I can’t imagine my life without cancer, it made me the person I am today,” Patti said


Source : http://www.actionnewsjax.com/news/news/childhood-cancer-survival-rate-rise-proton-therapy/nhTxW/?__federated=1