Check out the latest news about proton therapy: this week, find out how this state-of-the-art treatment modality is helping young cancer patients and grown men regain control of their life.
BOY FLIES TO US AFTER LOSING SIGHT IN RIGHT EYE
Louis Ackers, an 8-year-old boy from the UK whose brain tumor was misdiagnosed for a year and a half, has been flown to the US for proton therapy treatment after going blind in one eye.
The family first became alarmed at his condition early in 2014. His doctors could not explain what was causing his daily headaches, mid-day sleeping and lack of growth, as his neuro exam was normal. It was only last August, when he lost sight in his right eye, that an IRM was ordered and revealed a large mass at the base of his Louis’s brain. “I felt like someone had shattered my family into tiny little pieces and then run me over with a truck,” his mom said. The tumor was suppressing his pituitary gland, explaining why he hadn’t grown 1 cm within a year, and was sitting on the optic nerve, causing blindness. Louis underwent a highly risky five-and-a-half hour operation to remove as much of the tumor as possible from behind his right eye. “Louis recovered from the surgery like a superhero; he is our very own little superman,” his mom said. Louis is now receiving 10 weeks of proton beam therapy in Florida in the US, funded by the NHS, to prevent the tumor from re-growing. The family, including his mom, dad and two sisters, are due back from Florida this month. A fundraising campaign raised £25,000 to cover their living costs. It costs the NHS about £78,000 to send a child to Florida for treatment. Two NHS centers will offer proton therapy in the UK from 2018.
PROTON THERAPY GIVES MAN NEW LEASE ON LIFE
Dan Stasi, 65 years old, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 and was told he had three options: wait and see, have surgery or undergo radiation.
As he was on blood thinners for a blood clot in his leg, surgery was too risky. Fortunately, soon after his diagnosis, one of his friends suggested proton therapy. “When I first heard that I was diagnosed with cancer, I thought it was a death sentence,” he said. “Then, I heard about proton therapy, and everything changed.” Dan went to the Northwestern Medicine Chicago Proton Center in Warrenville. By using scans, Dan’s tumor was located and a small dot was tattooed on his body. The dot was used to line him up for treatments, which lasted nine weeks. During that time, Stasi was able to work full-time at his job. “I was able to leave home and be at the center in less than an hour,” he said. “During treatments, I didn’t feel a thing. Each treatment lasted two or three minutes, and it took me about 10 minutes to change in and out of my clothes. I had one of the first appointments of the day at 8 a.m., and I was out of there by 8:15.” When he finished his 9 weeks of treatment, the medical staff at the proton center threw him a party. Dan said he hopes other cancer patients choose proton therapy or at least consider it as one of their options. Now 65 years old, has been cancer-free for more than five years. He has a follow-up exam once a year and a blood test every six months.
SPREADING THE WORD ABOUT PROTON THERAPY
Mike Kastl wants to spread the word: men can survive prostate cancer. He was diagnosed with non-metastatic prostate cancer in 2009, and as he did not want to have a conventional surgery procedure or radiation, he chose a non-invasive type of treatment.
Mike underwent proton therapy at the ProCure Center in Oklahoma City. At the time, in August 2009, he was the first prostate patient to get treatment at the center, which had just opened. A beam was shot into his hip and changed to the other hip every other day for 44 treatments, and he didn’t feel a thing. Now Mike shares his success stories with other patients at ProCure. “I’m a proton preacher. I believe in it,” he said. “It’s the real deal. They’ve been super good and highly professional.” His doctor at ProCure says there are several everyday efforts, simple screenings and tests that can help with early diagnosis and prevention. Men over 50 should discuss regular screenings with their doctor. For men at higher risk, these conversations should take place at age 40 or 45. Regular screenings and monitoring the amount of prostate-specific antigen (PSA) are among the most effective ways to detect prostate cancer in a curable stage. Obesity and poor diet can increase the risk of diagnosis. Studies have found that obese men are more likely to be diagnosed with a more aggressive form of prostate cancer than men at a healthy weight. The best diet and activity recommendations for reducing the risk of prostate cancer are to eat at least 2,5 cups of fruits and vegetables each day, be physically active and maintain a healthy weight.