Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is raising awareness and generosity, and offering a better quality of life during and after treatment.
MEET CLARE, BREAST CANCER SURVIVOR
Clare Parker is a 66-year-old woman with no family history of breast cancer. In July 2016, she visited her doctor to complete her annual mammogram, but this time the visit wasn’t so typical: she had stage 1 ductile carcinoma.
Clare was startled and scared to hear the diagnosis. After performing a lumpectomy, her oncologist recommended specialist proton therapy at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center, to prevent unnecessary radiation to her heart, lungs and surrounding organs, resulting in fewer side effects. Receiving treatment twice a day, Monday through Friday, for one week, Clare was able to complete her proton therapy treatment rather quickly, “I was able to go back to work after each treatment,” she said. This is a major convenience for patients that are still trying to maintain their day to day life. Having a treatment such as proton therapy available that has little to no side effects helps patients do just that, return to work, school, or back to time with their families. For the patients that are traveling from other cities or countries to the center, little downtime between treatments allows them and their families the opportunity to experience the vacation side of Houston by getting to visit museums, the zoo, parks, and other attractions in Houston. Clare appreciated the emotional support and kindness from her medical team. “They knew me when I walked in. They were so nice and wonderful,” she said
Q&A WITH GARY LARSON ABOUT PROSTATE CANCER
According to Gary Larson, medical director at ProCure Proton Therapy Center in Oklahoma City, men should discuss prostate screening and treatments with their doctors. Here are his answers about PSA screening and proton therapy treatment.
“Men with prostate cancer have a prostate that contains normal cells and cancer cells, both of which spill a protein called prostate-specific antigen (PSA) into the blood. We correlate the PSA value in the blood to the amount of both normal and cancerous prostate tissue present in the man’s body. The American Cancer Society recommends men discuss screenings with their doctor at age 50 if they’re at an average risk of developing prostate cancer. Early prostate cancer often shows no signs, and the majority of prostate cancer cases diagnosed today are the result of PSA screening. A gradually rising PSA may warrant only continued observation, while a rapidly changing value may indicate the need for biopsy. For high-grade tumors, treatment is indicated in otherwise healthy men to help preserve their quality of life and in many cases, save their lives. After proton therapy, it usually takes months to years for all the prostate cancer cells to die and the PSA to decline. The PSA should drop about half of the prior reading every several months. So, it’s very important to maintain regular checkups that include PSA tests. This post treatment PSA goal is different for the surgical removal of the prostate, as the PSA should be zero. Also, post treatment, the PSA goal is different when hormone therapy is used with proton therapy or by itself. So, it’s best to discuss what your PSA level should be with your physician.”
4-YEAR-OLD FIGHTING RHABDOMYOSARCOMA
Darragh, a 4-year-old fighting rhabdomyosarcoma, which affects less than 60 children in Britain every year, is currently receiving chemotherapy treatment and is hoping to be accepted for proton therapy in Florida.
Darragh was diagnosed in February 2016 and since then, her family have had their lives turned upside down with having to make many trips to Belfast to get her treatment. A fundraising page has been set up to help them with the costs they are incurring and hopefully to make their lives just a little bit easier. Recently, the Irish professional footballer James McClean has donated £1,000 to help pay for specialist proton therapy in Florida. Darragh’s mother said: “I received a message to say James was trying to get in contact with me, then I received a text from James himself saying he was sorry to hear about Darragh and that he would like to donate the money and a signed jersey. I thanked him and he said he was glad he could help and that he would keep Darragh in his prayers.” Sharon admitted that McClean’s touching gesture caught her completely off guard and that she will be forever grateful for his wonderful generosity. She also thanked everyone who helped her and Darragh through the difficult time. “I was shocked at first, then really overwhelmed that he offered to do such a great thing. James is an absolute gentleman and I will be forever grateful to him and everybody else that has helped us along the way, the support has been amazing. I can’t thank everybody enough.” If you would like to help Darragh, you can make a donation by clicking on the following link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/christine-graham