Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment is helping kids from all over the world making plans for the future.
Grad student with cancer takes problem-solving approach
Graduate student Steven Keating has taken a problem-solving approach to his astrocytoma brain tumor. In the picture, he is holding a printed-3D copy of his tumor, which he printed with data from Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
In 2007, Steven had his brain scanned out of sheer curiosity. He had joined a research study that included an MRI scan, which revealed a slight abnormality near his brain’s smell center. A second scan in 2010 led to the detection of a baseball-sized tumor that was removed this past August during a 10-hour surgery. Now a graduate student in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Media Lab, Steven says that his curiosity saved his life. Since the surgery, it has only become more acute. “I asked for the surgery to videotaped, for my genome to be sequenced, and for the raw data from scans,” he said. He was able to apply his own research interests to develop an intimate understanding of his brain and his tumor and created a 3D-printed version of it. Having completed proton therapy at Massachusetts General Hospital, Steven is now undergoing chemotherapy. He describes life as a “wild ride.” However, as wild as it can be, he says that being an MIT student armed with data and a sense of curiosity can make all the difference. “It’s a scary ride unless you have information to make it a curious problem,” he says. “And if it’s a curious problem, it becomes an exciting ride.”
Proton therapy for kids
More than 13.000 children are diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. each year. Many of them will need radiation to destroy their tumors, but there are side effects. Now, a more precise form of the treatment that’s been used in adults is also helping kids.
Four-year-old James Contes has big plans for the future : “I want to go to outer space,” he said. But his first mission on earth is to get better, as he was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was three. Her mom said : “The way that we understand it is the tumor was spreading around the optic nerves”. James had two craniotomies to remove the tumor, but he still needed radiation. As traditional therapy could cause harsh side-effects such as loss of memory or vision, doctors offered James proton radiation, which uses a beam of protons rather than x-rays to kill cancer. Doctors mapped out James’ tumor and made 3D models. Then, they used the proton radiation to precisely target the tumor without affecting surrounding healthy tissue. After seven weeks of radiation, James gets to ring a bell to celebrate his last treatment. “I’m feeling very hopeful,” his mom said. His doctor said there’s greater than a 90% chance that James’ tumor will not come back. Patients typically undergo the proton radiation five days a week for six to seven weeks at a time. With young patients, doctors use anesthesia to keep them calm and still during treatment.
Running London Marathon for his daughter
Ashley Grote, Norwich Cathedral’s master of music, will run the London Marathon for Emily, his 4-year-old daughter, who was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor in 2014. She already underwent three major operations and two months of proton therapy.
March 28th - Ashley is preparing to lead the Norwich Cathedral Choir and Norwich Baroque in a performance of Bach’s St John Passion tonight as well as attempt the London Marathon on Sunday April 26 for his daughter Emily and in aid of Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital. Mr Grote said: “Thanks to the wonderful care of all the medical team and staff at Great Ormond Street Hospital, we are delighted to report that Emily is well on the road to recovery and a very happy little girl once again. “Throughout my preparations to date I have been buoyed by an amazing level of support, which has already seen me raise just under £9,000.” The performance of St John Passion will take place at the city cathedral. Soloists include William Blake (Evangelist) and James Oldfield (Christus).