Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is offering new treatment options and giving kids a chance.
CROWDFUNDING FOR BRAVE AMELIA
The parents of Amelia Elphee, a 4-year-old from West Yorkshire in the UK, are raising £3,000 to help fund overseas living expenses and outings to make her proton therapy treatments for a cancerous brain tumor a more positive experience.
“My daughter Amelia has just been diagnosed with a high grade neuroepithelial brain tumor with MN1 alterations. This is a rare kind of brain tumor with around 30 children affected in the whole of Europe. This means we have to travel overseas to receive Proton Therapy. We have been told that Proton Therapy is the best option for her rare type of tumor and that she is eligible to receive this treatment funded by the NHS. The funding covers travel, accommodation and treatment but does not cover meals, laundering, toiletries, comforts for Amelia whilst there and other living expenses. We are expected to be overseas for a total of 9 weeks, this is going to be a challenging time for us as we will be away from home comforts and the support of family / friends. This overseas treatment is an expense that we were unprepared for as Amelia has to start treatment as soon as possible we have not had time to save up. Any donation big or small would be extremely appreciated. I have decided to create a blog capturing every step of Amelia’s journey from beginning to end to raise awareness of childhood brain tumors and to provide comfort and support to others that are going through similar experiences. This blog will include diaries, photos, videos and resourceful information. Thank you for reading our story.”
PROTON BEAMS DESTROY BRAIN TUMORS AND GIVE KIDS A CHANCE
While brain tumors are rarely diagnosed in children, they are the most common form of solid tumors found in those younger than 15. All together they represent 20% of childhood cancers.
When a brain tumor is found, treatment may include surgery, chemotherapy and/or radiation. Although survival is job one, it is important to consider the treatment’s long-term side effects. Radiation can, for example, damage healthy tissue and contribute to the development of different forms of cancer later in life. It’s important that the medical team weigh a treatment’s side effects and potential harm with its benefits. Children with brain tumors often are treated with radiation, either with standard (X-ray) radiation or proton therapy. Both types attack tumors by preventing cancer cells from dividing and growing. “The fundamental property of X-rays,” says Dr. Ramesh Rengan, the medical director of Seattle Cancer Care Alliance Proton Therapy Center, “is that they go in one side and they come out the other. That rule changes with protons. With protons, we have the ability to deliver a therapy that enters but does not exit. It stops where we want it to stop.” As a result, protons allow to spare vital healthy tissue surrounding the tumor, and thus have the potential to reduce both short and long-term side effects, which is particularly important in the treatment of children.
PROSTATE CANCER SURVIVOR SHARES INSIGHT
Shortly after turning 50, David Hennessy began monitoring his PSA levels, which may indicate prostate cancer when detected at higher levels. Now 2 years after the end of his treatment, David wants to stress the importance of regular screenings.
When David’s doctors noticed his PSA level rising, a biopsy confirmed prostate cancer. “The biopsy showed that I had cancer, and I am fortunate in that the cancer appeared to be confined and treatable after being caught early,” he said. After much research and seeking multiple opinions, David decided that proton therapy was the best option for him. Because of the treatment’s pinpoint accuracy, which can minimize damage to healthy tissue, men get the benefit of extremely precise tumor targeting with a lower risk for potential side effects. Proton therapy helps prostate cancer patients maintain their quality of life, which was a major component in David’s treatment decision. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 9 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime. Men with early stage prostate cancer often experience little to no symptoms other than a rise in PSA. “When I found out I had cancer, I promised myself that I would spread the word that screening is so important. Most men are stubborn and feel bulletproof and won’t get their PSA tested. PSA is a simple, painless blood test. Tell your brothers, fathers, sons, uncles, friends to get checked.”