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Comments made by djoear

Proton Therapy Is Another Tool To Fight Cancer

As a prostate cancer patient who was treated with Proton Beam Therapy (PBT) at Loma Linda, less than two hours north of San Diego, I would like to address some of the statements and in my mind, misconceptions, presented in this article.

A message for Darrel:

Darrel, I'm sorry to hear that your surgery was not as successful as you hoped for, but it sounds like you're kind of grasping at straws right now. My suggestion is that you call the James Slater Proton Center at Loma Linda Medical Center the first thing tomorrow morning and discuss your situation. They have an excellent track record with "salvage". That's the term they use for the treatment for people who's initial treatment didn't work. I don't know what they will tell you but I guarantee they will give the straight word on the full range of options - they are good people.

So now - why proton?

1) Proton works different from conventional radiation. Conventional radiation has its highest radiation level as it enters the body, drops as it progresses through the body and the target and keeps going. To get the necessary amount of radiation to the target, it has to start high and after the beam passes through the target it still gets other tissue. Proton on the other hand, behaves totally differently. As protons pass through body tissue, they slow down and stop. When they stop, the bulk of the energy releases in a big burst called the Bragg Peak. What that means is that the entry energy is low, the medical team can control where the energy is released - the tumor, and there is no exit energy on the other side of the target. The end result is that most of the energy is deposited at the target and tissues on both the entry and exit sides have considerably less exposure than from other forms of radiation.

2) Dr. Mundt is kind of right - there have been no head to head scientific comparisons. Studies on survival rates show that most prostate cancer treatment approaches have roughly identical 5 year survival rates. However, what is not discussed are quality of life after treatment issues. Those of us who have been through PBT generally feel that the risk and intensity of both the short-term and long-term side effects are much less with proton than with the other treatments. But there have been no studies looking at the this - until now. A study out of Michigan is currently being conducted to look at this.

3) Loma Linda started doing PBT on prostate cancer 20 years ago. They now address over 40 cancers including certain types of breast cancer. The approach works and it IS successful.

Why more centers? Because as the word is getting out demand is out stripping the supply. Proton centers are costly, but as more come on line, the costs will come down and several companies are working on new generations of new PBT that should bring costs down even more.

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September 1, 2010 at 7:57 p.m. ( | suggest removal )