Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping more patients all over the world and covering new clinical indications.
Fund set up to pay for 9-year-old’s proton therapy
Liam Vollrath, who comes from Cox Green, England was diagnosed with a brain tumor in early October, after an optometrist noticed a swelling on his optical disc and nerve.
Surgeons at John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford carried out an operation but they were unable to entirely remove the tumor. His family thus opted to try and get Liam the same proton therapy treatment as Matt Rickley, a Cox Green fellow who is currently being treated in the US, as it is less likely to leave side effects.
The family flew to Oklahoma City on Sunday, November 9. His mom said: “We travelled out here as a family after long deliberations on what would be best for Liam.” The Freddie’s Heroes team who tirelessly raised £150,000 to send Matt Rackley to America is now raising cash for young Liam. The campaign has been named ‘Liam’s Fund’.
An initial target of £150,000 has been set to help pay for treatment and after care. Chris Rackley, who led the fundraising for his brother Matt’s treatment, explained that Johnson & Johnson has already pledged £10,000 to set Liam on his way. The Kids’ n’ Cancer charity has also donated money to the cause. Visit https://www.justgiving.com/liamsfund/ to donate.
Ashya King now walking and talking
Ashya King, the 5-year-old brain tumor sufferer whose treatment sparked a row between his parents and UK officials, was back on his feet last Thursday, after proton therapy treatment at a specialist Czech clinic.
Ashya’s parents were thrown into a Spanish jail for three days in August after taking their son from Southampton General Hospital without doctors’ consent to get him to the Proton Therapy Center in Prague, Czech Republic.
Now, after six weeks of proton therapy treatment, Ashya is said to have improved greatly and is able to respond to questions as well as eat and drink normally. The Therapy Center says the treatment took place without complications and during his 30 radiation sessions, Ashya “was getting better and better.” Ashya and his family are leaving for their holiday home in Malaga, Spain over the weekend for his rehabilitation. The family will meet with doctors before he begins low-toxicity chemotherapy. Once he feels better, there is a trip to Disneyland Paris to look forward to, organized by the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Mr King told the Sunday People: ‘He was so happy. Like any other little boy, he’ll love it.’
Proton Therapy for Lymphoma
When radiation therapy is needed, heavier particles such as protons, allowing for a more precise dose delivery, may be helpful in reducing side effects by focusing the dose of radiation on the tumor and sparing surrounding normal structures.
For patients with lymphoma, proton therapy might be preferred to photons for a variety of reasons. For example, many patients with lymphoma are younger when diagnosed and live long lives after treatment, putting them at risk for late emerging, long-term side effects associated with standard therapies. Patients with Hodgkin lymphoma (HL), in particular, have high cure rates, but they also tend to develop treatment side effects from the chemotherapy and radiation. In fact, childhood HL survivors are one of the groups at most risk for severe or life-threatening chronic health conditions, such as a second cancer or heart disease.
Because proton therapy is more precise in delivering radiation, the hope is that less heart disease and fewer second cancers will develop. Oncologists who support the use of proton therapy for HL have pointed to the “balancing act” between relapse due to inadequate therapy and severe late toxicities from overly aggressive treatment. Proton therapy provides lower overall radiation doses to the heart, lungs, breasts, esophagus, and other structures for the vast majority of HL patients. Even though the final data may not be in, the known and theoretical/potential benefits of proton therapy seem to be enough for many advocates to recommend it for certain patients.