Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping children with cancer overcome life-threatening challenges.
COMPLETING PT WITH SUPRISES
Hudson Brown, a 5-year-old from Michigan in the US who was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, has just celebrated the completion of his 30 proton therapy treatments and was treated to a surprise “Transformers” party.
Hudson was diagnosed after suffering from severe headaches that made him scream in pain. His parents rushed him to the emergency room and scans revealed that a large tumor called medulloblastoma had developed in the back of his brain and on top of his brain stem. “One day, my 5-year-old is going to pre-K, and the next day his whole world is turned upside down,” said his mom Megan, 36. Hudson underwent surgery that removed 90% of the tumor, and doctors suggested proton therapy at Beaumont’s new center in Royal Oak to be the next step of his treatment. “We felt so blessed that the center is only 30 miles from our house,” Megan said. Hudson’s doctor at the center said the tumor caused him to have typical symptoms, including unsteady gait, headache and vomiting, and presented several episodes of confusion, not being able to recognize his own parents. Hudson received a total of 30 proton treatments over a 6-week period, 5 days a week, and last Friday marked the last day of his treatment course. To celebrate, Hudson was treated to a surprise “Transformers” party, as he is a huge “Transformers” fan. He also received a video message from “Transformers” movie star Mark Wahlberg, who also provided hamburgers, Hudson’s favorite food, for guests to enjoy. His doctor said the 5-year-old still has a “minor amount of unsteady gait, which, with physical rehabilitation, should steadily improve. The proton therapy should decrease the risk of any treatment-related secondary cancer in Hudson over the next several decades.” Hudson will next have chemotherapy at St. John after a 4-week break.
GIVEN THE ALL-CLEAR ON A FRIDAY 13TH
Lily Douglas, a brave 10-year-old from Perth in the UK, has just been given the all-clear although doctors told her she had a 5% chance of survival when she was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma last year.
Lily was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of bone cancer last year, for which she had to undergo surgery to remove her shoulder blade and travel to the USA for pioneering treatment. Only 30 people in the UK are diagnosed with the rare form of cancer every year. On Friday 13th, Lily repeated the journey to Florida with her mom Jane and grandmother Mary to have several scans that revealed she is now cancer-free. Writing on a social media page that charts her battle, Lily wrote: “Who said Friday the 13th is unlucky? My scans are clear, I am cancer free.” She added: “I will get scans when I get home from America and, providing nothing changes, I am on the mend. I need to do a lot of hard work for the rest of my life with diet and exercise but I am a very lucky girl to be here and cancer-free.” The inspirational schoolgirl said that her fight against all the odds showed nothing was impossible. She said: “Don’t dwell on numbers. Stay positive and live life to the full.”
FIRST PATIENT TREATED WITH PT IN THE UK
The state-of-the-art treatment was given to a pioneering prostate cancer patient at the new Rutherford Cancer Center in Newport, South Wales, operated by the private company Proton Partners International. Within 3 years, the UK is expected to have at least 6 proton beam centers, 2 in the National Health Service and 4 run by Proton Partners for both private and NHS patients. Until now, British cancer patients have had to travel abroad to receive proton therapy at clinics in the US and elsewhere in Europe. Proton Partners has estimated that about 9,000 of the 150,000 cancer patients who receive radiotherapy every year in the UK “would have a better outcome” if they were treated with proton beams. The company’s centers will have a capacity of about 500 patients a year, and each center will cost about £35m to get fully operational. The company’s long-term aim is to build 8 centers in the UK. The NHS is also building higher capacity proton beam centers at the Christie Hospital in Manchester and University College London Hospital, where work is scheduled to begin by the end of 2018 and 2020, respectively. Making the treatment available in the UK has the advantages to to significantly reduce its cost and to avoid the effect long-distance travelling can have on patients and their families.