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.
NURSE BACK AT WORK AFTER PT
Barbara Green, a 56-year-old nurse from East Lancashire in the UK, has miraculously returned to work just months after undergoing ground-breaking proton therapy in America for a rare form of cancer in her spine.
Barbara has battled cancer for the best part of a decade, after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 and then again in 2012. She underwent a double mastectomy and thought it was over, but then she learned she had a rare tumor in her spine called sarcoma, which had left her in severe pain and on long-term sick leave. “To be told I had cancer for the third time was absolutely the worst thing,” she recalls. As a nurse, she knew surgery carried the risk of leaving her doubly incontinent and in a wheelchair. Then she was told about proton therapy in the USA, which would be covered by the NHS. Barbara knew this offered her the best chance of living a normal life, so she seized the opportunity and flew off to Florida, where she was treated daily with PT for 9 weeks. “Not everyone with a sarcoma can be helped by PT, but we are delighted that Barbara was suitable to receive it, given how close it was to her bladder, bowel and delicate nerve systems,” her doctor said. “This treatment has given her a very good chance of tumor control without the side effects from surgery.” Three months after her treatment in the USA and her 3rd battle against cancer in 10 years, Barbara was back at work. Although, she is not clear of cancer and will still have to attend scans, she said she’s already feeling a lot better. “Without the proton therapy, I would not be back at work.”
DAD-OF-FOUR CURED OF CANCER
Robert Webb, a 65-year-old from Basildon in the UK who was diagnosed with prostate cancer two years ago, was told not to waste money on proton therapy abroad. Ignoring that advice saved his life.
Robert’s journey started as he went to see his specialist for a problem with his neck. “While I was there, he suggested I have a PSA test, which measures the level of prostate specific antigen in the blood,” he recalls. His PSA was too high, and a biopsy confirmed he had prostate cancer. He underwent a number of scans and sought the advice of three separate doctors, who each recommended a different treatment route, including brachytherapy, photon radiation, and surgery. Robert was horrified when they explained the potential side effects of the treatments they proposed. After researching alternatives online, he came across the Proton Therapy Center in Prague. Proton therapy aims doses of radiotherapy at a tumor with pin-point precision. As a result, surrounding healthy tissue is spared, lowering the risk of side effects down the line: “Proton therapy has been shown to lower the risk of side effects associated with surgery and traditional radiotherapy, and it’s for this reason it’s becoming increasingly popular in the treatment of prostate cancer,” Robert’s doctor explained. Now 12 months on, Robert is fit and well with tests showing the cancer is in remission. He said: “I’m pretty sure without this treatment I wouldn’t be here much longer, or I would have an appalling quality of life.”
BRAVE EVIE SET FOR PIONEERING THERAPY
Evie Hughes, a six-year-old schoolgirl from Pen Llyn in the UK who received life-saving brain surgery last week, will soon have to travel to the USA for pioneering proton therapy treatment.
Evie was rushed to the hospital in Liverpool earlier this month, where she underwent emergency surgery after the detection of a brain tumor that has left her permanently blind in one eye. Her mom Heather says the operation went well, with fluid drained from a cyst surrounding the tumor. Doctors are hopeful of being able to shrink the tumor with chemotherapy rather than surgery, but they would have to wait a week or two to see if the swelling on the surrounding cyst reduces. After that, Evie will need to travel to Florida for a specialist treatment known as proton therapy, an advanced form of radiation therapy that uses protons rather than traditional X-rays to targets cancer cells more precisely, causing less damage to surrounding tissue. “She’s doing better than we thought she would. Minus the tiredness and headaches, she has been brilliant,” said Heather. An online crowd-funding campaign to help support the family has raised £1,027 in just 10 days, with several fundraising events planned. “The support is beyond heart-warming. There are so many events people have planned, some people we don’t even know. We can’t thank people enough for what they are doing – friends, family, people we don’t know and all the hospital staff for their amazing care.” To help Mr and Mrs Hughes, donate by visiting: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/angela-jenkinson