Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping cancer patients from all over the world overcome life-threatening challenges.
4-YEAR-OLD HEADING TO GERMANY FOR PT
Amelia Elphee, a 4-year-old girl from the UK who is fighting against a rare brain tumor, is set to fly abroad for state-of-the-art cancer treatment.
Last June, Amelia was diagnosed with a neuroepithelial brain tumor, one of only 30 known cases in Europe, following the sudden onset of seizures. Her mom Vicky, said: “When Amelia first suffered a seizure, I thought she may have simply overheated, or that she might have epilepsy.” When she was taken to the hospital, she began having another seizure in front of the paediatrician, and an MRI scan of her brain revealed the root of the problem. “Never once did I think I’d be told she had cancer. To hear those words left me dumbstruck, numb. I just couldn’t take it in,” Vicky recalls. On June 27th, just one week after she began displaying symptoms, Amelia underwent a 7-hour craniotomy surgery to successfully remove the whole 2-cm growth in the upper part of her brain. Two days later she was back at home making a promising recovery. Now, in the week of her fifth birthday, she is set to spend 6 weeks in Essen, Germany to have proton beam therapy. While treatment is funded by the NHS, the cost of living there is not, so Vicky set up a crowdfunding platform in order to raise the necessary money to continue the fight. “Amelia has been an inspiration throughout her treatment. She’s been so strong. And we’re optimistic of a successful outcome following proton beam therapy,” she said. To donate to Amelia’s plight: https:// www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/ameliaelphee
FIRST MAN TREATED WITH PT IN THE UK
Simon Hardacre, a 56-year-old dad from Wales, has become the first cancer patient to be treated with proton therapy in the UK. He is the first of many to undergo this pioneering and more targeted form of radiotherapy in the UK.
A year ago, Simon went to see his GP when he began feeling run down and stressed. “While I was there the GP asked me if I’d ever had my prostate checked, to which I said no,” he recalls. “The examination revealed that there was a small lump, so my doctor made an appointment for me to go to the hospital for a second opinion.” Further testing then confirmed that he had an aggressive form of prostate cancer. The diagnosis came six years after he’d been struck down with neck and throat cancer. “The treatment for my previous cancer was a combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy, which was gruelling and made me extremely ill.” On the NHS, Simon was given the option of either having robotic surgery or radiotherapy for his prostate cancer, with high risk of incontinence and impotence. After doing some research online, he stumbled across proton therapy, which was available just over the bridge in Wales. Simon received proton therapy treatment at the Rutherford Cancer Centre in Newport in April. It is currently the only clinic in the UK where the groundbreaking treatment is available. “It’s brilliant that we now have a world-class facility here in the UK where patients like myself can be treated. This was a game-changer for my own cancer treatment, and I’m sure that this will transform the outlook for many other patients up and down the country.”
HEAD & NECK CANCER SURVIVOR
Here is the story of Ed Malewitz, a cancer survivor who was diagnosed with adenoid cystic carcinoma at the base of his skull and was successfully treated with surgery and proton therapy.
At the beginning of 2013, Ed Malewitz from Houston, began experiencing frequent nosebleeds and nasal congestion. By 2015, he was undergoing testing to find the cause of those nosebleeds, and the ENT (ear, nose and throat) physician referred him to a rhinology specialist. It was decided to perform surgery to obtain a biopsy. During the 6-hour surgery, the rhinologist discovered and removed an egg-sized tumor in Ed’s nasal cavity. The tumor was an adenoid cystic carcinoma, located near his optic nerve on the right side of his sinus cavity at the base of his skull. “Since it was very close to my optic nerve, they told me I might lose some of my vision from my right eye and maybe my left eye,” Ed recalled. To complete treatment and ensure that no cancerous cells remained, his physician highly recommended additional proton therapy treatment. Ed completed a total of 33 treatments over a 6-week period at the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Center. With proton therapy, doctors were able to precisely target the cancer cells in Ed’s nasal cavity while sparing his eyes and brain. The side effects were minimal allowing him to go to work every day. Now, Ed is back to doing what he loves — astronomy and photography. “I came through it without damage, without scarring. I came through it with my vision intact.”