Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients of all ages and origins in their fight against cancer.
CALLING FOR PROSTATE CANCER SCREENING
Richard Joscelyne, a 72-year-old man from Essex, is calling for a national PSA screening programme after his life was potentially saved by a £40 blood test he purchased online.
It all started when Richard became concerned about blood in his urine: “I was noticing a slight reduction in flow and on one occasion I thought I saw blood.” After doing some research, he mentioned a test to his family doctor that measures the levels of prostate specific antigen in the body known as PSA test, but he was reluctant to offer him the test due to its potential unreliable results. Richard thus decided to buy the test online: “His argument was it was a flawed test that can give false negatives and false positives. So I got one myself online and took the test at home.” Richard’s test came back at 5.65, which was normal for a man of his age, but over the next 4 months he saw his readings steadily increase until he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in August. Richard researched his treatment options and decided to undergo proton therapy at the Proton Therapy Center in the Czech Republic. He is now cancer free. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in the UK, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year. Richard said: “There is a certain level of embarrassment related to prostate cancer. So my view is the more it’s talked about the better it is. Education is key, as is the PSA test.” The charity Support & Influencing at Prostate Cancer UK recommends that men over 50 – and men over 45 if they are Black or have a family history of the disease – discuss the pros and cons of the PSA test with their family doctor.
SOFA-BOUND AFTER BRAIN SURGERY
Freddie Hunt, a 3-year-old boy who had a tumor the size of his fist removed from his brain, is now sofa-bound after his cancer battle and keeps on gaining weight as a rare side effect of brain surgery.
Freddie was diagnosed with hypothalamic hamartoma in September last year, when he was admitted to hospital for epileptic seizures. A brain scan revealed a brain tumor the size of a fist so deeply embedded in the tissue that the NHS refused to fund the operation due to the high risk of brain damage. Heartbroken, his parents David and Abi turned to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona, US and, with the help of surgery and proton beam therapy, most of the tumor was removed. But just 20 days after going under the knife, the toddler’s belly began to bloat to an unbelievable size, despite a constantly upset stomach and frequent vomiting. As a result of the invasive brain surgery, Freddie had developed hypothalamic obesity, a condition caused by damaging a nerve in the brain that controls the body’s metabolism. As a result, Freddy’s brain keeps on telling his body to store more food. Five months later, the 3-year-old weighs 37.84 kilos and can no longer walk on his own or even sit up. Knowing, that the fat retained in his body is already putting a strain on his liver and heart, David and Abi are desperate for a cure, but are running out of alternatives. Despite being blind in one eye because of the tumor, Freddie smiles when someone asks how he is doing, and replies with a timid “Good, thank you.” When he isn’t seeing his doctors, physiotherapist or speech therapist, Freddie enjoys playing with his Peppa Pig toy and watches his big sister Holly play games on her iPad. “He has been so amazing. It’s our current inspiration, to be honest, because he is so happy and he doesn’t moan,” his parent said.
10 YEAR OLD FIGHTS CANCER
Emilie Gibson, a 10-year-old girl from Shreveport in Louisiana, has been fighting cancer since she was diagnosed in September 2016 with diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
When Trey Gibson, Emilie’s father, was reading about Senator John McCain’s brain cancer diagnosis, he realized that something was missing in almost all of the articles about his condition: “There was not a single mention of children in there and if we’re not telling the whole story children get left out.” This drove him to tell his daughter’s story. After her diagnosis last year, Emilie started proton therapy treatment in San Francisco. She quickly became tired of traveling but as it turns out, Willis Knighton in Shreveport now has a proton pencil beam radiation machine, one of only a few in the country. Her doctor said that the benefit of proton therapy is minimizing the low dose to all the non targeted areas, and a precise target means the surrounding tissue will not be damaged by radiation and there will be less side effects. “Our goal is to maintain her quality of life as long as we can and for her to enjoy her life and spend her time as she thinks is the most important for her at this time.” Emilie begins 5th grade at Legacy Elementary in Bossier in August. She is looking forward to meeting her teacher and being a cheerleader for her school.