Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is offering new options for patients with complex cases of cancer.
1st PATIENT TREATED AT MICHIGAN’S PT CENTER
Bill Baker, 86, was the first patient to be treated at Beaumont’s Proton Therapy Center for brain cancer after he heard the Oakland County Executive address the new technology in his State of the County speech.
Bill said: “I turned to my wife and said ‘Hey, you know that treatment sounds like just exactly what I need’. I said ‘I don’t know about taking medical advice from a politician,’ but I did some research on it and found out a lot more about proton beam therapy.” Baker had brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic in 2009, but only 85% of the tumor was removed because the remaining 15% was entwined around a major blood vessel. According to the chairman of radiation oncology at Beaumont, Bill typically would have “gotten more X-rays, but that would’ve irradiated more of his brain. And the more normal brain you irradiate, the more potential there are for late brain toxicities,” he added. Beaumont’s new $40-million, 25,000-square-foot facility houses the first proton therapy center in Michigan and the 25th in the U.S. Proton therapy is an alternative to X-ray radiation that uses pencil beam scanning to kill cancer cells without affecting adjacent health tissue. Treatment times depend on the case, but for Bill, each session took 15 to 20 minutes in a roughly six-to-eight week time frame. “My wife and I have been treated like royalty here,” Baker said. “It’s a great honor for me to be accepted as number one.”
ALL CLEAR AFTER PT IN PRAGUE
Eric Day, a 79-year-old cancer patient from the UK who was offered end of life care by the NHS after his brain tumor was deemed “inoperable”, has now been given the all clear thanks to proton therapy.
Eric, a former dentist, first developed colorectal cancer in 2012 and, at the time, was treated successfully with surgery and chemotherapy. In August last year however, he received the devastating news that he had developed a secondary tumor in his brain. Neither surgery, chemotherapy nor traditional radiotherapy were realistic options for treatment considering the severe risk of damage to nearby vital tissue. The only choice left available to him in Britain was palliative treatment to relieve his constant pain. After refusing to accept the prognosis and researching alternative therapies, his oncologist agreed to refer him to the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic, in December last year. Following the treatment, Eric says he’s “ecstatic” to have been given the all clear. He said: “It’s four months since I took so much as a single Paracetamol tablet. I am pain free, eating properly again and have regained the lost weight. My ability to do things has returned to normal. My last PET scan shows that the tumor has disappeared and there is no spread anywhere else. Needless to say, my wife and I are ecstatic.”
FUNDRAISER FOR DAD-OF-FIVE
Andrew Davis, a 40-year-old father-of-five, is raising money with his family to get proton therapy abroad after NHS doctors told them nothing more could be done, as the specialist treatment is not set to be offered in the UK until late 2018.
Andrew, 40, a former market trader, was diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils after months of suffering from sore throats in October 2015. After a session of chemotherapy and 30 sessions of radiotherapy, he was given the all clear in 2016. But earlier this year Andrew became unwell and after many tests and scans, it was revealed he had liver cancer. His family, including two sons, 18, 16, and three daughters, 15, 12 and ten, were told the devastating news the cancer was incurable. NHS doctors told Andrew he has between six months and a year to live, and that nothing more could be offered in their country. Andrew and his wife Elizabeth, from Bolton, are thus looking into proton beam therapy, which is not set to be offered at The Christie in Manchester until late 2018. Elizabeth, 37, from Farnworth, said: “It’s really frustrating that it could be an option, but just not in time for Andrew. Having to tell your children their dad is going to die is horrendous We are a big and close family so we are pulling together but some days we are up, some days we are down. But we decided to look at other treatment, some in Germany and some in London. We just want to do everything we can to give him the best chance of life.” The family is hoping to raise £20,000 to pay for treatment.