Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping patients from all over the world in their fight against cancer.
FURTHER CANCER TREATMENT FOR ELSA
Elsa McBurney, a 7-year-old brave girl from Brandbridge in the UK, is facing further treatment after receiving devastating news that despite months of chemotherapy and surgery, some of the cancer remains.
Elsa’s family were given the heartbreaking news that only 65% of the cancer was destroyed by chemotherapy and surgery, while they had been hoping for a result of 100% necrosis, which would mean no disease is left. Unfortunately, 35% of the cancer remains, which means that the dream holiday to Florida they were hoping for won’t happen, instead the 7-year-old and her mom Leslie will travel to America for Elsa to undergo proton therapy treatment. Posting on the Team Elsa blog, Leslie said: “I prayed and hoped with absolutely everything that I have that the results would be amazing; 100% necrosis, no evidence of disease. And Elsa looking and feeling so well really helped me cement this notion into my head. I really felt like it was gone. Well it breaks my heart to say it but unfortunately we didn’t get the results we had hoped for. She had 65% necrosis and 35% viable disease Absolutely gutting after everything she has come through. “However, we will dust ourselves off and keep fighting. We are very fortunate that her treatment in America is funded by the NHS, as is our travel over there. “Our next move is Florida for proton beam therapy, we have no dates yet but it’s likely to be in the next couple of weeks.”
FIGHTING AGAINST CANCER AND INSURANCE COMPANY
Lesley Adams, a 32-year-old mom-of-two from who has been diagnosed in March with a highly aggressive form of lymphoma in her chest, has been fighting for her life on two fronts since July.
Lesley was diagnosed with defuse large B-cell lymphoma after she had trouble breathing and a nurse practitioner thought she had bronchitis. When she saw the results, she felt her stomach drop: “My tumor was like an eggplant in my chest.” In her battle against cancer, Lesley has fought back with chemotherapy and now is in the middle of radiation therapy to try and kill the last vestiges of the mass that rapidly grew near her heart and lungs. Outside the hospital however, Lesley has lost a two-month-long battle with her insurance company, seeking approval for them to cover proton therapy treatment, a more targeted radiation therapy to treat her tumor instead of the traditional radiation therapy she had to settle for. “It goes only to the tumor, and it does not affect the heart, the lungs or the breast. We met with a radiation specialist here who told us you can get lung cancer, oesophagus and breast cancers from radiation.” Lesley fears she and her young family will have to undergo another cancer battle decades down the road as a result of her exposure to radiation. In the midst of all of the appeals, her tumor continued to grow and she decided she could not afford to wait any longer to begin treatment. Since Sept. 5, she has been undergoing radiation treatments five days per week in a bid to finish off the tumor.
FIRST TREATMENT 12 MONTHS AWAY
It is just 12 months to the first patient treatment at the UK’s first NHS high energy proton beam therapy center at The Christie in Manchester.
Proton therapy has been offered overseas to NHS patients who are eligible for treatment in England since 2008 in a programme that has to date supported approximately 1,000 patients. However, for many cancer patients, travelling abroad is inappropriate as they may be too unwell or require other treatments such as surgery and chemotherapy. The trip abroad can also result in families being separated during a very stressful time. Together with the Department of Health, NHS England is funding the development of two world class centers in Manchester and London for NHS patients to be treated in the UK. The Christie proton beam therapy center will treat its first patient in August 2018 with University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust following in summer 2020. Each center will treat up to 750 patients a year. Amelia Brome, 10, from Lancashire is back at school this term for the first time since January, having undergone 10 weeks of PT in the USA for a tumor affecting her brain and nasal cavity. She and mother initially had to fly out to Florida alone, as her father had difficulty obtaining a visa and had to follow on a week later. “It would all have been so much easier if Amelia had been able to have her treatment in Manchester, and we are so glad knowing that proton therapy is coming to The Christie next year,” her dad said.